Note: I received a copy of this play from Playwrights Canada Press for review. This does not impact the content of my review.
Book: Redheaded Stepchild
Author: Johnnie Walker
Publisher: Playwrights Canada Press
Genre: Drama and Plays
My rating: 5 stars!
Synopsis: Nicholas is a twelve-year-old with red hair whose dad just remarried. His new stepmom is a chain-smoking, ex-Jehovah’s Witness. Tomorrow at lunch, the biggest boy in grade six plans to beat him up—he even made a Facebook event. Should Nicholas skip school, even if it means missing the chance to audition for the class play and impress his English teacher?
Funny, witty, sarcastic, and compelling – Redheaded Stepchild presents a realistic and heartfelt look into one boy’s experience of pre-teen bullying and how hard it can be to be figuring out life at twelve.
I absolutely loved this play. It is short. But it packs a whole lot into only 37 pages. I can envision what this show might look like on stage. The stage directions and dialogue of all the characters make it easy to imagine how one actor can portray all the roles.
This play is so relevant right now – with online bullying, blended families, parents trying to figure out how to parent, and the alway difficult age of being twelve and having to grow up. Many stories that deal with issues of bullying end up being quite sentimental. This play is not one of them. It is full of subtext and layers of meaning. There is a lot going on in Nicholas’ life and the lives of the people around him. And, he’s really funny. If you’re looking for snark, look no further.
Anyone can relate to Nicholas, not just redheads. Although I’m sure the redheads can connect very easily to his situation. He’s different from the other kids. He’s small. He has red hair. He’s now a stepchild. He likes Shakespeare. He’s twelve and his body and the bodies of the kids around him are changing. Life ain’t easy for a nerdy twelve-year-old boy with red hair. Johnnie Walker wrote the twelve-year-old voice (and imitations of other folks including his step mom and alter ego) incredibly well. Nicholas is young, but not too young. Mature, but not too mature.
Overall, I loved this play. I sped through it. I want to read it again. I want to see it performed. It is intelligent and funny. And, it is a lot of fun to read all the Canadian references! Read the North!