Ikelus

Next Step Productions/St. Xavier High School (Cincinnati)

Ikelus,” St. Xavier High School’s entry in the set of four Fringe Next productions presented at SCPA, has a title with Grecian overtones that high schoolers themselves no doubt link to a particular online game. But it also suggests that a classic story is being told.

“Ike,” as this Ikelus is called, is a high school student with narcolepsy, a difficult and, in fact, incurable ailment that affects and often destroys ordinary life. His doctor gives only bad news to Ike, who sits speechless with his hood pulled up and his back to the audience during their meetings. The doctor cautions repeatedly about avoiding strong emotions, since they will trigger being overcome by sleep.

How do you live without emotion, wonders Ikelus, out of his doctor’s office. What do you have to say if you don’t care?

This well-done production can be seen as a take on a teenage condition, with narcolepsy standing in for horrendous self-doubt. N No programs were provided, so I am without cast names, but the company was on top of the material and the demanding role of Ikelus well played by an actor with a marvelously expressive face.

Other characters are cheerful stereotypes of high school students and of adults seen from teenage viewpoint. Two bullies do an almost choreographed bit of bullying and receive a merited comeuppance, to the delight of the young audience the night I saw the show.

There’s also the Smart Guy who, out of curiosity and sympathy, befriends Ikelus; the Class Clown who carries on as expected; and the grownups — Ikelus’ doctor and a professor — who are as out of touch and remote as adults seem to be to people living through the period we call adolescence.

I liked the way Ikelus was presented, with one-dimensional characters showing us how we might look to others, using humor as an entry card for serious thoughts, and for providing a reminder to all those whose teenage years are lost in forgetfulness regarding the painful wrenches involved in growing up. With that reminder, there’s also the suggestion that something — a wonder, a sense of possibilities — might be lost along the way.

Well worth seeing, especially if there is a teenager in your life or if your life, at this point, puts you in the teenage category.


IKELUS by Next Step Productions/St. Xavier High School (Cincinnati) will be performed at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, May 31 at part of FRINGENEXT at the School for Creative and Performing Arts (108 Central Parkway, Downtown).



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