Still Life with Iris

Rated 4.0

The best of children’s theater starts with a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the intelligence and humor of a younger audience. Despite common misconceptions that they’re pushovers, kids have high standards, low tolerances and no qualms about letting you know if you’ve missed the mark.The Children’s Theatre of California (under the umbrella of the B Street Theatre) understands its demanding audience, as well as the accompanying adult ticket-buyers. For the third production of its inaugural season, the theater has made another wise choice with Steven Dietz’s Still Life with Iris.

Iris is a happy youngster in the land of Nocturno, where the residents scurry around at night to create the daytime world. They are nature’s set designers. They color the leaves. They make the wind howl, the thunder clang, the sun rise and the moon set. They also wear coats that keep their thoughts and memories safe—a strange but provocative idea.

One day, young Iris is chosen as “the perfect child.” She is sent to the Island of the Great Goods, where the rulers of Nocturno collect one of every perfect specimen. She gives up her coat, which makes her forget who she is and where she’s from.

Once at the island, she is greeted by the Great Goods, who expect everything to be perfect and who dismiss everything and everyone who isn’t. As the play unfolds, Iris learns life lessons about family, community, diversity, humility and the joy of imperfections.

The cast is full of fun and vigor, the costumes are quirky and colorful, and the dialogue has heart and humor (with enough asides to keep the older crowd amused).