Weekend Highlights

Published March 5, 2013
Going Places

A Parent’s Review: The Edge of Peace at SCT

by Ruth Schubert
seattle child article photo
Liz Kimball in The Edge of Peace at Seattle Children's Theatre.
Photo by Chris Bennion.

seattle child article photo
Kyle Cotton and Franchelle Stewart Dorn in The Edge of Peace at Seattle Children's Theatre.
Photo by Chris Bennion.

The Edge of Peace is a nuanced, complex and emotional play. And intentionally so. As Seattle Children’s Theatre’s artistic director, Linda Hartzell, writes in the program notes, playwright Suzan Zeder “trusts that young audiences will respond with maturity to serious subject matter and sophisticated theatre.”

If the opening night performance is any indication, they will indeed. After the play, the actors came out on the stage and asked the audience what the play’s title means. One boy talked about how the characters are “at war with themselves.” A girl talked about how the people in the play really need peace, but they don’t have it yet.­

Both are so right. The Edge of Peace portrays how the small community of Ware, Illinois, copes with news that soldier Ricky Ricks is missing in action near the end of World War II. While the play includes a rich cast of characters, all with their own secrets and fears, the focal point is 11-year-old Buddy, Ricky’s younger brother, who struggles to remain optimistic and protect the town in his own way.

Buddy delivers what was my 10-year-old daughter’s favorite line: “I’m not adorable! I’m 11!” It’s a line that aptly conveys Buddy’s frustration at not being taken seriously, at being treated as a child even as he shoulders the weight of helping his mother cope and patrolling the town against an escaped prisoner from the nearby POW camp.

There are so many rich and memorable characters in the play. Buddy’s best friend is the town’s deaf postman and mechanic, Tuc, who communicates through sign language, jotted notes and an on-stage “interpreter,” who gives voice to Tuc’s thoughts and signs. The part is impressively played by Robert Schleifer, who is himself deaf. My personal favorite was Nell, played by Franchelle Stewart Dorn, a wise woman who lives in the hills, doesn’t like anybody getting into her business, listens to German transmissions on the shortwave radio, and who the town kids call a “witch.” Nate Kelderman does a really good job as young Buddy, who is in virtually every scene of the play.

One of the things I love about Seattle Children’s Theatre is that they have plays for all age ranges. The Edge of Peace is recommended for ages 10 and older. While I have in the past taken my younger daughter to plays categorized for older kids, I would stick with the age recommendation on this one. (OK, maybe I’d take a mature 9-year-old.) I think it is simply too complex and nuanced for younger kids to enjoy.

For older kids, though, it is an emotional and thought-provoking play, wonderfully acted and staged.

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If You Go...

Where: Seattle Children’s Theatre, 201 Thomas St. in Seattle, located at the west entrance of Seattle Center, just north of Pacific Science Center and west of the Space Needle.

When: Through March 17. See the website or call the box office for available performance dates and times.

Admission: Tickets are $20 to $36. Seattle Children’s Theatre recommends this production for children ages 10 and older. 

Contact: 206-441-3322; www.sct.org.