//Ad libs: Powerful opening night for 'Juvie'

Monday, July 30, 2007

Powerful opening night for 'Juvie'

So nice to see a crowded house for local theater, especially in downtown Palo Alto. Last Friday was opening night for Dragon Productions' "Juvie," and even though many of the actors are teens, the audience was certainly broader than just parents.

I hadn't been familiar with Jerome McDonough's script, which takes place during a night in a holding cell, telling the stories of the young people locked up. I found its monologues spare, powerful and very accessible. It had a way of making you feel disturbingly at home in a world you wouldn't want to enter.

After the show, everyone got to go behind bars, the audience mingling on stage with the actors for a reception. Director Paul Sawyer looked justifiably proud of his young cast. The danger with this subject matter is that you can fall into melodrama. But, like the script, the actors found a matter-of-fact side to violence and crime that made the topics even more haunting. They were remarkably natural, in particular Claire Martin as Jean.

For a more thorough take on "Juvie," check out the Weekly this Friday to see writer Elizabeth Obreza's review.

Pictured: Several cast members of "Juvie." Photo by James Kasyan.