This is an ambitious, 60-minute script by Highlands High School student Vicky Alcorn, staged by Lydia Wira. The subject is a child dealing with grief. Sam’s best friend is Charlotte. Despite teasing from other kids about how a boy shouldn’t have a girl for his best friend, 8-year-old Sam appreciates her strength as she assertively protects him from three bullies who badger him at school. Sadly, Charlotte dies in a traffic accident, but Sam clings to her memory, continuing to play with her. However, her imagined presence is full of anger and hostility — perhaps a reflection of Sam’s own unacknowledged emotions — and she causes his behavior toward others to become increasingly hostile.
Sam’s worried mother and self-centered but well-intentioned older brother James try to connect Sam back to the real world without much success, and a school psychologist has little luck. The spirit of Charlotte convinces Sam to run away, but he doesn’t get far before ending up in the hospital with a broken leg. He returns home after a month (who spends a month in the hospital with a broken leg?) and finally it’s time to say farewell to Charlotte and move on.
This is a play written and acted by teens, with young actors playing kids and adults. (There was no program provided, so I can’t attach names to roles.) Their emotional range onstage is narrow, but they do a solid job of keeping things moving (despite a few too many scene changes). The show could probably be tightened by 10-15 minutes. Another challenge is the acoustics in the Over-the-Rhine Community Church: The sanctuary is a very resonant space, and several of the actors need to do a better job of vocal projection.
The fact that Sam pulls out of his grief might show that his memory of Charlotte really has helped him recover, although her feisty encouragement no doubt imperiled him physically and perhaps mentally. It might also be suggested that the motivation of freshly baked, chocolate chip cookies was a key factor in Sam’s therapy. (The teens’ production company is the “Unleash the Cookie Crew.”) That might be naïve, but considering the youth involved, it makes sense. Cookies — especially chocolate chip — usually help me feel better, too.