Dauntless Little John Saves The World!
Local playwright Adam Bearson is a man with a million ideas. He’s also on a mission to spread major messages. Unfortunately, when you marry a million ideas with nebulous major messages, the results can be a bit muddled.Dauntless Little John Saves The World!, now playing at the Space, is Bearson’s first foray into community theater playwriting. The drama/English teacher at San Juan High School created a theatre troupe called “Folktales for a New Tomorrow,” to put on Dauntless Little John, which he labels “a shamelessly political didactic melodrama.”
Bearson’s concept? Create an everyday superhero named Dauntless Little John, who fights fear and apathy by battling a strange cast of characters in a play that’s “a modern folktale and a call to action.” Bearson’s message? According to the program, the play “treats blind hope as another stupid denial and points an accusing finger back at our own fears.”
Bearson’s million ideas? Ah, that’s the rub. Into his cauldron he puts a superhero, Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, a Death figure, a strange handless woman, Homeland Security, the hero’s wandering mother, a humanized television set and a Palace of Fear. Staging includes live melodrama piano playing, a high-heeled cue-card girl, a dozen pre-set audience members, the play-within-a-play concept, and the construct that the evening’s performance is a rehearsal with planned miscues and interruptions.
The pluses? Some nice acting, a creative set, colorful costumes, a killer piano player, loads of good intentions and the nucleus of an interesting play. The bottom line is this: If you plan to save the world through playwriting, the secret is simplify, simplify, simplify.