A bright, gray light illuminates the stage, which is empty except for a tired, sagging tree; two rock-like structures made of carpet; and orange cords hanging from the ceiling. The audience, hushed, waits for thirty seconds. The stage is still. Fifteen seconds more. Nothing. People start rustling in their seats. Another fifteen seconds, and an alarm clock starts blaring. Carpets are unrolled. Nerf guns are shot. Patti & The Kid has begun.
For the first half of the play, uncomfortable silence seems to be the norm. In their post-Apocalyptic world, Patti and Kid never speak; rather, the only soundtrack is the blaring of a CD player, which accompanies the two characters as they Jazzercise, eat carrots, and make coffee—completely normal activities, which perfectly juxtapose with the strangeness of the situation. Patti and Kid are wary of the area outside their carpets, and only leave their spaces when standing on a small rolling carpet square and pushing themselves around with a broom. The only technology onstage is old—the clunky CD player, the coffee maker, the alarm clock—yet clearly integral to these characters’ lives.
One starts to believe the silence is some sort of side effect from the Apocalypse. But then Tammy—the antithesis of Patti and Kid, a little girl who seems to have no problem with this new, post-Apocalyptic world—arrives with her feet firmly planted on the ground. She breaks both the fourth wall,addressing the audience directly,and whatever spell has kept Patti and Kid from speaking. While the two characters’ actions originally have the tired, monotonous air of repetition, their silence shows they have performed their morning routine so many times that no words are needed; with the entrance of Tammy, Patti and Kid move into uncharted territory, and discuss previously buried parts of their lives through cathartic monologues.
As Libby King and Frank Boyd, the actors who, respectively, play Patti and Kid, began to flesh this piece out in March 2017, the “taste of the election and the wound was very very fresh.” The parallels between the real world and the world of the play are striking:he main characters’ have trouble adjusting to the world post-Apocalypse, just as many struggled to adjust to a world post-election. However, after Patti’s and Kid’s monologues, where they discuss their lives with the audience, they process their emotions, suggesting that, to find closure after the election, one needs to speak with others about potential problems and solutions.
The passage of time is another concept Patti and Kid have struggled to hold onto in their new world. The play begins with the lights coming up, just like the sunrise, and the blare of an alarm clock. Patti also states that it has been 367 days since the Apocalypse—suggesting they don’t keep time by the sun anymore, as 367 days is a year in the lunar calendar. In other words, they have three different ways of keeping time: the sun (the old way), the alarm clock (the technological way), and the moon (the new way). This need for time, for a way to know exactly what is going on at every minute, seems to be a subtle way of pointing out who Patti and Kid have become: people complacent in their practices. Time, at the end of the day, is just another concept that keeps us on schedule. Patti’s and Kid’s love for time, like so many of their actions and ideas, is based on their need for a system—one they cling to when their entire world has come crashing down around them.
The technology, as well, showcases how much Patti and Kid crave routine. They appear scared of new technology, or, at the very least, do not believe in it to the extent the modern world does. But their old CD player—one of the few pieces of technology they own—leads to their Jazzercise session, where they robotically execute every move the cheery announcer dictates. The fact Jazzercise is part of their repeated morning routine also suggests they have become slaves to what technology they do have.
At the end of the play, Tammy walks away from the carpets and towards the audience—choosing her world of change over the static world of Patti and Kid. Tammy then gives a semi-staged talkback to the audience (semi-staged in that the questions are prewritten and the answers, while seeming natural, have been rehearsed). The talkback seems to represent the world of Patti’s and Kid’s technology—stilted and unoriginal. The audience couldn’t ask their true questions, just as Patti and Kid couldn’t talk about their experiences and feelings until after Tammy—with her creativity, her inquisitiveness, her zest for life—arrived. After the talkback, however, Tammy goes back to Patti and Kid, and starts dancing with abandon. She brings her own music, she creates her own dance—she is free to move as she pleases. Her actions aren’t dictated by a CD player. It’s almost as though, because she does not want technology or need it to go about her day, she is able to be a pure, unadulterated version of herself. What sets her apart from the robotic-ness of Patti and Kid is her lack of rules, which, rather than hurting her, make her an interesting, original person. Instead of being caught up in the past, she can move into the future. Her lack of routine is what allows her to change.
The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.
This review was written as part of the Adventures in Contemporary American Culture workshop which was produced in partnership with On the Boards. It was edited by performance critic Omar Willey, and TeenTix Press Corps Manager Mariko Nagashima.