01 March 2012

I hope (for my students' sake) that I've learned a little something since kindergarten...

...but I can't argue with hardly anything that I saw this past Sunday in All I Really Need to I Know I Learned in Kindergarten that runs at Playhouse on Park until March 11th.  The series of sketches with music based on the popular book by Robert Fulghum (adapted by Ernest Zulia with music and lyrics by David Caldwell) was full of recognizable and touching situations that allow the audience to acknowledge once again the beauty and the goodness that's around us.  If that sounds sweet, you're absolutely right, but it's supposed to be.

Accompanied by my younger daughter, who enjoyed the production and performances, as well, I got the opportunity to instruct her on the meaning of didactic literature (i.e., a poem, story, play, etc. meant to teach its audience something).  At the end of a very funny vignette, entitled "MOTB" ("Mother-of-the-Bride"), which recounts the fate of the controlling title character when faced with an impossibly disastrous wedding, we are offered, as it were, the moral of the story...the thing that makes sure we see MOTB as something more than a punch-line.

As I explained to my daughter, the danger of didactic literature, of course, is its potentially reductive quality -- its seeming insistence that the audience forget everything but that moral. 

But the beauty of the performances throughout this production is that they are so rich that, while the script may make the moral clear, the actors (Jeff Horst, Richard Dennis Johnson, Scott Scaffidi, Megan Snyder, and Denise Walker) and directors (Joe Keach-Longo and Kevin Barlowski, music) never compromise the fullness of the tales they bring to life.  So whether it's the pig in Cinderella, or the patting of an older parent, or a man in a hot-air-balloon/lawnchair high above a major metropolitan area, the audience can't but be very much engaged -- because they aren't walking and talking moral exempla, they are people, like us, with stories to tell.

One personal note: the segment "Problem or Inconvenience" (about learning to distinguish between the two) hit very close to home since my father, who suffered with Multiple Sclerosis for 30+ years (moving steadily from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair to a scooter to a bed), never referred to his illness as anything other than his "inconvenience." 

If that seems just about right, you'll really enjoy Kindergarten.

And, if that seems a bit preachy, then you need to see Kindergarten.



  1. Hello I was wondering if this play could be enjoyed by a nine year old? Thanks!

  2. Kind of a tough question. The daughter I mention in my review is almost 13, and while, if I remember correctly, there's one "shit" in the script, there's nothing else even remotely inappropriate. That said, the show on the whole is aimed at adults (i.e., there's that feel of "remember when you were young and you felt carefree...?"), which a child can certainly understand, even if it doesn't resonate as much as it will with you. Now, if your child is a theatre kid, like mine, (s)he'll definitely enjoy the performances. Does that help at all?

  3. Yes it does, thank you very much!