Written by Stephen Karam & PJ Paparelli
Dramaturgy by Patricia Hersch
Conceived and directed by PJ Paparelli
At American Theater Co. (ATC), Chicago
The new version of Columbinus is a much too long and exhaustive theatrical discussion of a tragic high school shooting
Covering three worlds: adolescent high school cultural, the events surrounding the Columbine Shootings, and the thirteen-year aftermath, Columbinus runs 2 hours and 43 minutes making it an exhaustive affair. My main problem with this production is its length and the over theatricality of parts of the show. In act one, we get an in depth look at the teen high school cultural where we meet the Freak, the Jock, the Prep, the Loner, the Perfect Girl, the Girl with Faith, the Rebel, and the AP. This act simply covered too much of teen life including several movement pieces with loud rock music. I’d advise cutting at least 15 minutes of this act so as to keep building the dramatic tension of events to come.
The game cast of Matthew Bausone, Jerod Haynes, Rob Fenton, Eric Folks, Kelly O’ Sullivan, Leah Raidt, Tyler Ravelson, and Sadieh Rifal easily and effectively swiftly moved from scene to scene with breathing procession. Matthew Bausome as Eric Harris captured the rage that Harris unleashed while Eric Folks presented the pent-up isolation and submerged rage that Kiebold possessed. This game cast fully engaged the story of the two teen killers who planned and executed the killing of 13 students in Columbine High School in Littleton, Coloradoon April 20, 1999.
Act two was the chilling story of how Harris and Kiebold came to move from lonely losers to harassed and bullied to killers bent on revenge as their way out of life’s troubles. Not only did the show present their evolution but it also show how parents and authorities missed loud signals that the two were becoming dangerous. This is a scary and moving presentation that will upset some as it dramatically walks us through the killing.
In act three, we hear reenactments of actual testimony from interviews survivors gave immediately after the shootings and over the curse of time up to the present time. This sections needs to be edited, cut and refocused since it is much too long. It simply has too many trivial comments that dilutes the power and impact of the tragedy. It drones on and ultimately it exhausts us. A tighter focus that build to appropriate conclusion would work best.
In summary, Columbinus is a major theatrical event that vividly dramatizes the horrific events from 1999 that unfortunately has become too normal of an event in America that we become numbed to its tragedy. This production reminds us that guns and violent behavior must be stopped if we are to remain a civilized society. Unfortunately,y the slaughter of first graders in Newton has diminished the memory of the Littleton tragedy.
Talk Theatre in Chicago
Date Reviewed: February6, 2013
For more info checkout the Columbinus page at theatreinchicago.com
At ATC, 1909 W. Byron, Chicago, IL, call 773-409-4125, www.atcweb.org, tickets $38 – $43, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 2 hours, 40 minutes with 2 intermissions, through March 10, 2013