February 15, 2020
Surreal journey into adolescent discovery in ‘The Boy at the Edge of Everything’
By John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre (DMYAT) continues to challenge its young talent as well as its audiences with theatre fare that wanders into realms of the unexpected. The realm being explored in The Boy at the Edge of Everything truly carries the story and its audiences to the edge of the imaginative universe through this relatable, theatrical journey.
Since Finegan Kruckemeyer’s play was workshopped in 2012 through the New Visions, New Voices development program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts, it has been performed globally. This production is the Iowa premier of The Boy at the Edge of Everything, and seems an apt reflection of the core values of DMYAT and Kruckemeyer, who is “…committed to making strong and respectful work for children, which acknowledges them as astute audience members outside the plays, and worthy subjects within.”
Kruckemeyer has had 94 commissioned plays performed on five continents. His 36 awards include the 2017 Mickey Miners Lifetime Achievement Award for services to international theatre for young audiences, the 2015 David Williamson Award for Excellence in Australian Playwrighting, and an inaugural Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship. He was one of 21 selected worldwide for the ASSITEJ Next Generation (young leaders in children’s theatre).
The Boy at the Edge of Everything is an allegorical tale about an over-scheduled “12-and-a-bit-year-old” Simon Ives, who dreams of a place where he can just stop and be. Meanwhile, at the farthest point in the universe, The Boy at the Edge of Everything (TBatEoE) lives by himself, lonely and bored. An unlikely series of actions involving “lots and lots of fireworks” propels Simon through space, where he lands at the footsteps of TBatEoE. Two distinctly different worlds collide, and the two boys will be forever changed.
The show opens with a Twilight Zone-esque needle-drop montage of story-defining scenes, seemingly random but pieces of a story puzzle that will be assembled as it continues. This show often seems dream-like, slow-motion in its pace. It has elements that boys of this age obsess about: vomiting, passing gas. It has the full commitment of every ensemble member in delivering this fantastical tale of everything versus nothing, and many things in between.
Excellently carrying the story along is our pair of boys, Amara Feitelson as Simon Ives and Lars Oredson as TBatEoE. Feitelson is articulate and engaged throughout the no-intermission show, drawing the audience into his journey. Oredson’s animated style gave his character a quirky uniqueness throughout, although the inconsistency of his body mic’s pickup lost some of his dialogue. A basic element of stage performance, projecting so the audience can hear the dialogue, was spotty with others in the ensemble. The cast’s commitment to this script, however, was complete and impassioned, and created many memorable ensemble moments with scenes, transitions and impact.
A key moment in the show, where Simon is launched across out space thanks to an abundance of fireworks powering his takeoff, was a highlight scene. The effect of traveling through space was a creatively choreographed flow of varied lighting devices in the darkened theater space, a captivating montage of movement, a symbolic hurtling through space. There are lessons to be drawn from this story, especially for younger audience members. Kruckemeyer retains a boyish perspective in delivering these nuggets of wisdom.
DMYAT delivers its promise of engaging and worthy theatre fare, both for its young participants and its audiences. While not every performer shows polished skills, each radiates a desire to learn and grow. Young actors who have grown through previous stage work are developing into strong performers. DMYAT deserves its audience support, as patrons will experience an energy and devotion to the power of theatre each time they attend a show. The Boy at the Edge of Everything is a grand experience.
The Culture Buzz theatre reviews are written by professional critics, to inform and enlighten. To receive weekly newsletters, email TheCultureBuzz@gmail.com or visit www.theculturebuzz.com. The Culture Buzz is a weekly broadcast/streaming arts & entertainment show, airing Wednesdays 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM Central Time on KFMG 98.9 FM and streaming at www.kfmg.org.