If you have a teenager, especially a teenage boy, I cannot recommend emphatically enough that you unplug them from the XBox for a few hours and cart their story-starved souls over to the Children’s Theatre to see The Stones.
Written and performed by two veteran actors from Australia’s Zeal Theatre, Tom Lycos and Stefo Nantsou, The Stones is based on the true story of two teenagers in Australia who were put on trial for manslaughter after kicking a rock off a freeway overpass, after t he stone smashed through the windshield of a car and killed the driver. From the raw material of this unfortunate incident, Lycos and Nantsou have created a brilliant two-person play that’s a refreshing departure from the didactic, feel-good theater so often seen on the CTC Stage.
The Stones takes audiences inside the minds of two teenagers (an unsavory prospect right off the bat) who have nothing better to do than goof off and goad each other into doing things neither one of them would probably do on their own. Though Lycos and Nantsou are middle-aged actors, they both do a fantastic (and hilarious) job of capturing the mindless instinct for trouble that plagues kids who have nothing better to do. Before the boys make their fatal mistake, they try out one stupid idea after another, any one of which could either kill them or cause massive property damage. When the consequences of their thoughtlessness finally catches up with them and the police investigation begins, Lycos and Nantsou become the police officers as well, switching seamlessly back and forth between stern, no-nonsense adults and the frightened, clueless kids.
What’s truly great about The Stones is that it doesn’t take sides. Rather, it presents the situation in such a way that there is no black and white, opening up a spirited debate about whether the boys are truly guilty of manslaughter and should be sent to jail, or whether they are merely guilty of a great deal of teenage stupidity and big steaming heap of bad luck. The boys themselves aren’t choirboys—each of them is clearly perched on that cusp of life where they could go either way, and the oldest doesn’t have much remorse for the killing—but the larger question is what society should do with these boys, and at what point do we expect people to take full responsibility for their own actions.
Plays that appeal to kids over the age of twelve don’t come to the Children’s Theatre very often, so don’t miss this opportunity. The Stones is smart, funny, tragic, and thought-provoking—and, as a special bonus for teens, features lots of loud electric guitar music played live by the actors themselves. Another concession to the ADD generation is that the show only an hour long, so your brooding teen can be back in front of their XBox in no time, wreaking the sort of electronic mayhem that would, in the real world, get them into a heap of trouble.
The Stones continues at the Children’s Theatre through March 9.