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Wonderbox, 629 New York Ave NW

Remaining Performances:

Tuesday, July 12th at 7:15 p.m. Sunday, July 17th at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23rd at 12:30 p.m.

They say: “Written by emerging local playwright Timothy Guillot, Insurgent Sonata tells the story of five teenagers who attempt to start a revolution by killing their parents. Together they confront abuse, find friendship, understand love, and slowly tear each other apart.”

Emery’s Take: Included in the blood-splattered program for Junesong Arts’ Insurgent Sonata was a small questionnaire asking each audience member a different question regarding the play. Mine simply asked, “What is the importance of parenting in our lives?” This meager yet subtle attempt to generate a discussion about a valid topic was as genuine as this experience got.

Set in “an abandoned shelter in Anytown, USA”, Sonata tells the story of five teenagers engaged in a pact to murder their parents in hope of inciting a revolution that would produce a utopian society. As farfetched as that already sounds, playwright Timothy J. Guillot gets kudos for an ambitious effort to tackle the coming-of-age tale from a fresh angle. Led by their tightly wound, Christmas-light-crowned leader, Verlander (a very capable Leslie Vincent), the kids take turns reenacting the experiences with their parents that have led them to contemplate parricide.

In these reenactments and the children’s responses to them, there are authentic moments of emotion reached on stage; however they are trumped for outrageous and sometimes ridiculous subplots simply added for shock value. Shortly after killing his parents, a disturbed Mesh (Kyle Encinas) shares a memorable scene with Maestro (Steve Isaac), who manages to defuse Mesh’s anger by sharing with him a rare positive experience from his own marred childhood. That scene is later cheapened by a kiss between the two young men that comes with no prior development, which leads me to believe it was added purely to elicit a response from the audience. Their transformation from powder kegs of anger to hand-holding, doe-eyed romantics just doesn’t add up.

All five young actors do as much as they can with such a convoluted script, but the play fails to accomplish its aims. The questionnaire is simple and straightforward; it asks a question and demands an honest answer. The material asked many questions like the one one the paper handed to me: Why do we need parents? How is it they can provoke so much anger in us, no matter how old we are? Instead of trying to answer these riddles as sincerely and honestly as possible, Insurgent Sonata tries too hard to entertain.

See it if: You’ve ever wanted your parents to disappear, whether by magic or the means of a contract killer.

Skip it if: You don’t want to see an after-school special on steroids.

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