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A lockdown drill turns out to be more than a drill for these teens. The show starts off by reminding us that they were in kindergarten during Sandy Hook, so lockdowns are normalized for them. The three Gen Z actors are gleeful high school students enjoying their lockdown drill as that meant getting out of their exam – until it turned out it was more than a drill. A poignant reminder that enough is enough regarding gun violence. Moments of levity amidst lots of tension. The lockdown warnings with static are absolutely eerie.
submitted by: Jessica Labbe, PF23 Independent Review Team
“Babies in the River” is a study in power. The youth performers of GenZ use the stage with fluidity of motion. They toy with the stupidity and banality of school norms and structure – the chew and snap gum, giggle for reasons known to them, they roll their heads on their desks waiting for the adults to show up and do what adults are supposed to do.
This piece opens with a warning that The Sandy Hook shooting happened when these performers were 5. These performers have been performing school lockdown drills since they were in kindergarten. Cat litter and bandaids are supposed to keep them safe from the onslaught of bullets they pretend to hide from.
GenZ is begging us to act more effectively about legislating gun reform. “Babies in the River” is masterful about the way in which they beg.
submitted by: Bridget, PF23 Independent Review Team
How do you build a barricade against an adult world that will not do enough, collectively, to protect you? You can’t, really; you do your best to adapt to the system you were born into. One shared adaptation to such a situation is humor — and the three teens playing the primary roles in “Babies in the River” use a range of pure silliness and pointed gallows humor in response to their situation: inadvertently left alone in a classroom during a lockdown that may or may not be a drill, after a literal lifetime of lockdown drills and school shootings on an all-too-regular basis. I would love for the actors’ dialogue to be louder, to be sure we can catch the full contrast between their joking, their complaining, their curiosity, their jaded resignation, and the moment when shit starts getting real, because what they’re sharing with us matters. A lot. Kudos to this production team for letting a slideshow and a haunting, pre-recorded allegory that we shouldn’t need to hear — but clearly still do — bring the message home artfully.
submitted by: Amanda Painter, PF23 Independent Review Team