The Metal Children
Written and directed by Adam Rapp
Starring Billy Crudup, David Greenspan, Betsy Aidem, Connor Barrett, Susan Blommaert, Guy Boyd, Halley Wegryn Gross, Jessy Hodges, Phoebe Strole
Performances through June 13, 2010
Vineyard Theatre, 100 East 15th Street
No one can accuse Adam Rapp of subtlety. The Metal Children, based on his own experience, follows an author confronting narrow-minded school board zealots in a middle American small town who have banned his most famous young adult novel.
Tobin Falmouth lives alone in a Manhattan apartment after his wife leaves him. He’s months behind in writing his new book and feeling rudderless, so, on his agent’s advice, he drives 1000 miles to the burg of Midlothia and gets mixed up in more than he bargained for: impregnating Vera, a teen who adores him and his work; getting beaten and stabbed by a Porky Pig mask-wearing nutcase; and generally finding the divide between Conservative Christians and liberal authors to be wider than the Gulf of Mexico.
As Tobin, Billy Crudup looks totally out of it, which fits the man’s stunned demeanor. In his best scene, an off-the-cuff speech at the school board meeting, Crudup lays bare Tobin’s pent-up feelings about himself and his art far better than Rapp’s writing. But no other cast members overcome their stereotyped roles: David Greenspan too gleefully sinks his teeth into Tobin’s agent, ending up caricaturing a caricature, while Phoebe Strole (Vera) seems to have been directed to ape Ellen Page in Juno, a lazy decision by Rapp. Although decently staged by its author, The Metal Children promises far more than it delivers.
originally posted on timessquare.com