February 15, 2024

SCENE | Speaking 'Child-ish' – Adults Talking Like Kids x Pacific Theatre

"Playgrounds would be made entirely of mushrooms!"
Tasha Faye Evans James Yi Craig Erickson Maki Yi Tom Pickett Sara Vickruck | Child-ish by Sunny Drake | Pacific Theatre Vancouver
Photo credit | Chelsey Stuyt
South Granville—Celebrated Australian-born and raised (now Toronto and Los Angeles-based) queer/trans playwright Sunny Drake undertook his ambitious Child-ish project to painstakingly document the real-life thoughts and feelings of forty-one different Toronta area children (ages 5 to 12). First adapted into a fun four-episode web series, it's now been translated into a feelgood live theatrical meta adaptation of his findings into a thoroughly amusing stage play presented by Pacific Theatre in its world premiere starring grown-ups as composite characters drawn from his exhaustive pool of interviewed kids and very much made for adult audiences.

A diverse cast of six adult actors, all wearing variations of drab grey suits (reminiscent of David Byrne's American Utopia), including the talented but notably non-Australian performer Sara Vickruck (also narrates) standing in as a variation of Drake himself interviewing the curious child characters, all speak verbatim the exact words of kids' real opinions on the topics of love, life, war, racism, sexism, anxiety, suicide, world affairs, and most importantly, unicorns (seriously)!

While fresh in its staging, acting, scripting, and direction, things get "real" quickly with a light touch scattered between comical non sequitur one-liners. There's an inherent comedic value to witnessing professional grown-up actors of various ages, genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds speaking ridiculously honest statements with total deadpan delivery, particularly actor Craig Erickson, who seems to have all the best lines spoken bone dry for maximum effect and laugh hit ratio.

Craig Erickson, James Yi Tom Pickett | Child-ish by Sunny Drake | Pacific Theatre Vancouver
Craig Erickson, James Yi & Tom Pickett
What comes through Drake's compiled transcribed words by way of his The Child-ish Collective of whip-smart, underage interview subjects and "kid advisors" is the pure innocence and sincerity of its insights—often lost on us cynical adults as we age and get older. Lois Anderson's spare stage direction only further highlights the remarkably insightful material and earnest performances.

Drake has created a delightfully hilarious stage experience thanks to its direct transcription from the mouths of kids. Child-ish is deceptively simple but highly effective. Its conceptual fidelity to the genuine experiences, thoughts, and feelings of actual children is impressively admirable all the way until the joyously playful ending. So remember to always "listen to kids," because "[they're] are amazing!"

Child-ish runs until March 9th live on stage at Pacific Theatre.

More | YVArcade / CBC / Stir / Straight / Sun

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