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Horrible Child

Studio Theatre – Mead Theatre, 1501 14th Street NW

Remaining Performances:

Saturday, July 17, 7:45 p.m.

Thursday, July 22, 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 25, 6:30 p.m.

They say: “Mom (Q) & Dad (P) detest their hairy, sexless offspring (Horrible). In a desperate attempt to rid themselves of the Horrible Child, they call an exterminator (Terrible). But when Terrible meets Horrible, sparks fly and destinies change in this deranged comedy by Lawrence Krauser.”

Sheffy’s take: Horrible Child requires its very own age appropriateness category: Recommended for kids 13 & under and adults.  With stuffed animals, cute bunny costumes, and silly wordplay cheerfully delivered in verse, young children will love it… provided they don’t understand what’s going on (sex, masturbation, attempted murder, child cruelty).  Adult themes notwithstanding, this lighthearted poem spins a fantastical fairytale in which two otherwise loving parents (P & Q) beget an abomination (aka H.C.) whom they need to purge.  How many mothers can say, “The day I evicted you from my womb was the most horrible day of my life.”

The forlorn Horrible Child (Daniel Eichner), on the other hand, eloquently articulates treatises justifying its continued existence. (They tried to check its gender, but there was too much fur, uh, down there.) Parents (endearingly played by Lee Ordeman and Delia Taylor) and offspring may inhabit the same space, but they occupy different universes as they talk past each other.  Even as HC tries to utter its first words to them, they start to cavil about syntax and enunciation.  As P & Q (qua Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum) prattle on — “Talk is the excrement of the soul,” Q says — the exterminator (Greg Twomey, dressed as an ex-Terminator) finally arrives, only three years late.  Is this a show crying out with a message about child abuse?  Nah, I’d no sooner search for deeper meaning in Jabberwocky.

On the plus side, producer/director Jose Carrasquillo has brought us a highly creative and original work, at times very funny, if absurd.  However, due to the intense concentration needed to fully appreciate the carefully crafted language, it could also have been a bit shorter.  I wish I could say there was a happy ending, but alas, there is an unnecessary 15 minute epilogue about death and Alzheimer’s, which for the sake of the pun, I must describe as Horrible.

See it if: you think Disney should hire Tim Burton as their new creative genius.

Skip it if:The Ugly Duckling hits a little too close to home for you.