“I saw this play in New York and it reminded me of why I’m in the theater,” said Curious Theatre artistic director Chip Walton by way of …
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“I saw this play in New York and it reminded me of why I’m in
the theater,” said Curious Theatre artistic director Chip Walton by
way of introduction to “Speech and Debate” at the Nov. 1 opening,
adding that there would be a prom after the funny show about three
misfit teens in Salem, Ore., who each hold a link to a local sex
They connect in school, and their solution to a need to
communicate and figure out who they are, is to start a speech and
debate team, sharing considerable skills.
Internet connections pop up as though written on a chalk board
through Todd Webster’s clever video work.
The play opens with Howie, who claims he came out at 10, played
with charm and attitude by Steven J. Burge, exchanging notes in a
gay chat room — keyboard clacking as words appear— with a person
who turns out to be the school drama teacher.
Enter Solomon, Glen Moore, an earnest, moralistic, conflicted
wannabe journalist who wishes to write about controversial subjects
such as gay sex and abortion for the school paper, but is, of
course, discouraged by his teacher (Rhonda Brown, who also plays a
The third part of the triangle is theatrical Diwata, a
frustrated actress who can’t get a part in the school plays, who is
wonderfully played by Heritage High graduate Laura Jo Trexler.
Stephen Karam’s comedy, which is in production as a film, has
some dark edges, and is still a bit rough in structure, but the
dialogue is sharp and funny and reinforces appreciation for the
theater, music and debate team kids who may be labeled “dweebs” by
the mainstream students.
The audience laughed steadily as these skilled young actors came
up with one zinger after another, perfectly timed.
Director Dee Covington, who works with teens in Curious’
outreach programs, has a good feel for the scattered, yet intense
sort of kids Karam created here.
Among the topics they make fun of is the high school sex
education class, which tells them to not let anyone touch them in
the “bathing suit areas.” Right.
Karam, still in his 20s, said during an interview with a Los
Angeles critic, that he was writing plays in the basement at 16 and
sending them off to contests, versus playing sports.
His previously performed “Columbinus” was based on the tragedy
at Columbine High School and again looked into the minds of misfit
kids. He shows a real skill in portraying the angst and quirky
humor of teens.
“Speech and Debate” by Stephen Karam plays through Dec. 13 at
Curious Theatre Company, 1080 Acoma St., Denver’s Golden Triangle.
Performances: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays.
Tickets: $27, and two for one Thursdays; 303-623-0524 or online
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