Class struggles played out on stage

Small cast of Problem Child focuses audience’s attention

Problem Child was published with five other plays that all take place in the same hotel room.
Problem Child was published with five other plays that all take place in the same hotel room.

Problem Child is a play that asks its audience to empathize with characters that exist in a moral grey area.

Its drama revolves around two degenerates who have had their baby taken away. RJ, played by Galen Watts, ArtSci ’14, has just got out of jail and Denise, played by Felicia Myronyk ArtSci ‘16, used to be a prostitute and drug addict.

They are trying to get their lives back on track so that a social service worker, played by Mary Spray, ArtSci ’17, will return their baby.

The play is constantly evolving and the characters are beautifully realized. With a cast of four actors, none of the performances feel two-dimensional.

Problem Child was written in 1997 by Canadian playwright George F. Walker as part of a six-play collection. Each play takes place in the same run down hotel room.

Director Holly Molaski, ArtSci ’15, read the play in high school and thought it was a great opportunity to direct a Canadian play.

Problem Child has a lot of interesting themes that relate to the Kingston community,” she said. “It’s about a class struggle.”

One of the standout actors was Myronyk.

As junkie prostitute Denise, Myronyk has an intangible kind of charisma. It’s hard to describe because she never plays the character sympathetically. There’s no Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts type of charm. She’s just a screw-up who desperately loves her baby, and it’s so compelling that it roots the performance.

Despite the despicable nature of her character, Myronyk plays her so that the audience always understands how much she loves her family.

“I’m hoping that when they leave the show, they think about cycles of behaviour, class struggles and modes of class production,” she said. “It’s interesting how people get stuck in their own ways and develop habits.”

These conventionally deplorable characters are able to elicit sympathy.

“The characters deconstruct while they are trying to fit into a certain role, but in the end they break down,” she said. “[It’s] about how much someone can really change over a period of time.”

Everyone in the cast gives a wonderful performance. The show really breathes. Nothing ever felt faked or phony. As the play starts to heat up, you can feel the actors feeding off of one another’s energy.

Fifth Company Lane’s production of Problem Child runs until Mar. 1 at The Box in the H’art Centre.

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