A Parent’s Review: Crash at SCT
The play showing at Seattle Children's Theatre through May 20 may be called Crash, but the story is much more subtle in its power, and before you know it, the characters have snuck their way into your heart. At the center of the play is John Coogan, who prefers to go by his nickname, Crash. When two new students move into his school, Crash’s moral compass is put to the test. SCT recommends Crash for ages 8 and older, so I took my 12-year-old and 9-year-old along to be my co-reviewers.
Crash is based on the book of the same name by Jerry Spinelli. Books often afford the reader the benefit of not only hearing the conversations between characters, but also letting you hear the thoughts in their heads. My 12-year-old son loved the way the play found a way to incorporate some of those important inner thoughts. The play featured several internal monologues by Crash. The lighting would change, and the others on stage would suddenly go into super slow motion while Crash shared his thoughts with us.
My 9-year-old daughter’s favorite character was Jane. When I asked her why, she said it was because of the way she made new friends … that and her shoes. Even more than the characters, my daughter talked about her emotions during the play. She said she felt tired after the show, and I can see why. Crash is a bit of an emotional roller coaster. From the highs of quirky humor, to the lows of sadness and worry to the twisting turns of anger, guilt and blame, you truly feel it all during this play.
If you’re looking for a way to talk to your kids about bullying, standing up to bullies, accepting people who are different, inclusion and ostracism, the limits of labels, or seeing things from another person’s perspective, this play has all the conversation starters you need.
If the complex relationships between the students aren’t enough conversation fodder, there are plenty of family topics as well. Crash’s relationship with his parents is far from ideal. He feels distant from them due to their crazy work schedules. At times he feels neglected, unnoticed and unimportant. It’s a great reminder that even the pretty, popular, sporty kids can struggle with self esteem issues.
Then there’s Grandpa Scooter. While only a minor character, his role is pivotal to the play. He is the only one who truly sees Crash and all of his complexities. It is ultimately Grandpa’s nudge that helps Crash realign his priorities with what really matters. It is also a strong reminder about how important relationships with grandparents can be, for grandparents provide things for our children that parents never really can: a perspective from another generation, wisdom beyond Wikipedia, and a winnowing of priorities that only comes with age.
As an adult, I couldn’t help reliving bits of junior high and high school as I watched the play. At different times, I identified with different characters, but no doubt about it, they were spot on for the social dynamics that tweens and teens face. It’s hard to find your place. It’s hard to be the new kid at school. It’s hard to feel different or unnoticed. It’s hard being a kid, a parent and a friend. But at least Crash reminds us that we’re all in it together.
Take your kids, take their friends, take your whole family to the play; and maybe take some tissues just in case.
If You Go...
Where: Seattle Children’s Theatre, 201 Thomas St., Seattle.
When: Through May 19. Thursday and Fridays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 and 5:30 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $20 to $36 adult, $20 to $29 child, subscriber discounts available. The show is recommended for kids ages 8 and older.
Contact: 206-441-3322 or www.sct.org.