Adult Things Review
I’ve never wanted to yell "FIRE" in a crowded theatre. On Thursday night, I was sorely tempted. "Adult Things" is the kind of show that seemingly exists to punish its audience for having free time. Still, it’s worth remembering that the clearly-talented actors are the real victims here.
The story is set by a pool with three posh, vapid young adults (like last year’s "Bodies Bodies Bodies") and their soldier friend who shows up occasionally. A war is raging and civilization is in ruins. There’s another, minor trio who are hardscrabble conscripts. Anyone associated with the war is a real crab. The soldiers literally have crab-claws for hands — a metaphor for violence as delicate as the claws themselves. It’s an element of magical realism that goes largely unexplored, and is mostly consigned to a sight gag.
A large chunk of the script seemed to be added only for shock value and contributed little to advancing the characters, plot, or message. No one goes through any sort of growth or even changes of heart — the majority of the show is vacuous conversation. Jokes about sex or naughty words can only be made so many times. Describing traumatic violence in a flat affect has little impact unless it shapes the story, which it largely does not — it’s a disturbing one-off. In one scene, a woman kills and eats her baby. The guy sitting next to me crossed himself, and I think he had the right idea. The character’s callous selfishness had already been established but hey, it couldn’t hurt to throw it in there?
"Adult Things" has no deeper meaning, but still baits the audience into trying to find it. It is juvenile masquerading as profound — bad writing that falls on the crutch of "simplicity is the point." What’s on the TV screens above the actors — is there a larger point to the idyllic Americana? Nope, no Jordan Peele to be found here. Rich kids don’t understand the plight of poor ones who get drafted — got it. Performative activism by the privileged means nothing — it’s been said. Fascists first target education and art as means of stifling dissent — who would have thought?
The ensemble did their jobs as well as they could. Moire del Carmen Día played a sheltered Instagram activist type who was suitably obnoxious, and Kyra Klonoski brought more personality to a character who could have easily just rolled her eyes and looked sexy. Antione Gray Jr. wasn’t given a whole lot to work with — calling his character a foil would be giving it too much credit. The best part of the show was an impassioned performance by Trey Caperton as a disillusioned drone operator whose spill-your-guts monologue towards the end shows what this writer might have been capable of — when they weren’t winging the rest of the script with simple declarative sentences. Another silver lining: the media design, led by Reiley Torfun, makes the war-torn backdrop immediate. The booms hit, the lights pierce, and the scrims flash almost to the point of sensory overload.
Throughout the show, I tried to imagine why someone would be made to perform this, given the opportunity cost. As if the hours demanded by the drama school were not enough, presenting Adult Things served to punish the cast doubly. Nevertheless, if I had to pay any money to see it, I would have demanded the first act’s "YOU GOT FUCKED" banner for my dorm room.
[Edited 3/29] In the original version of this article, the Media Engineer Bahaar Esfahani was incorrectly credited as the Media Designer. The article has been updated to reflect the correct credits.