Hip Shot: ‘Horrible Child’

Horrible Child

Studio Theatre – Mead Theatre, 1501 14th Street NW

Remaining Performances:

Saturday, July 17, 7:45 p.m.Horrible-20Child
Thursday, July 22, 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 25, 6:30 p.m.

They say: “Mom (Q) & Dad (P) detest their hairy, sexless offspring (Horrible). In a desperate attempt to rid themselves of the Horrible Child, they call an exterminator (Terrible). But when Terrible meets Horrible, sparks fly and destinies change in this deranged comedy by Lawrence Krauser.”

Sheffy’s take: Horrible Child requires its very own age appropriateness category: Recommended for kids 13 & under and adults.  With stuffed animals, cute bunny costumes, and silly wordplay cheerfully delivered in verse, young children will love it… provided they don’t understand what’s going on (sex, masturbation, attempted murder, child cruelty).  Adult themes notwithstanding, this lighthearted poem spins a fantastical fairytale in which two otherwise loving parents (P & Q) beget an abomination (aka H.C.) whom they need to purge.  How many mothers can say, “The day I evicted you from my womb was the most horrible day of my life.”

The forlorn Horrible Child (Daniel Eichner), on the other hand, eloquently articulates treatises justifying its continued existence. (They tried to check its gender, but there was too much fur, uh, down there.) Parents (endearingly played by Lee Ordeman and Delia Taylor) and offspring may inhabit the same space, but they occupy different universes as they talk past each other.  Even as HC tries to utter its first words to them, they start to cavil about syntax and enunciation.  As P & Q (qua Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum) prattle on — “Talk is the excrement of the soul,” Q says — the exterminator (Greg Twomey, dressed as an ex-Terminator) finally arrives, only three years late.  Is this a show crying out with a message about child abuse?  Nah, I’d no sooner search for deeper meaning in Jabberwocky.

On the plus side, producer/director Jose Carrasquillo has brought us a highly creative and original work, at times very funny, if absurd.  However, due to the intense concentration needed to fully appreciate the carefully crafted language, it could also have been a bit shorter.  I wish I could say there was a happy ending, but alas, there is an unnecessary 15 minute epilogue about death and Alzheimer’s, which for the sake of the pun, I must describe as Horrible.

See it if: you think Disney should hire Tim Burton as their new creative genius.

Skip it if: The Ugly Duckling hits a little too close to home for you.

  • EMC

    An amazing piece of theatre in every possible way. I have not encountered this kind of daring play in quite a while. Kudos to the team that brought this one-of-a-kind gem to the Fringe Festival. Lawrence Krauser must be some kind of a genius. Dark, moving, affecting and absolutely hilarious. The company of 4 actors brings the script and its permutations to life with fierce determination. The director embraces a challenging style and yet the resulting presentation seems effortless. The beautiful movement seems, after a while, organic to whom these characters are. I left the theatre inspired thinking about great actors and what they are capable of doing. Daniel Eichner (one of the busiest actors in town-- he was in Forum's great production of Angels in America last year) is the Horrible Child of the title. He and his cast mates are up to something wonderful here! This is the best Fringe show and one of the best theatre experiences of recent years. The only MUST SEE IN TOWN!

  • Scarlet Billows

    This was among the best of the Fringe -- if not the best. (Dizzy Miss Lizzie and Miss Teen Jesus are also spectacular in very different ways). Loved the language and the structure, though I think it would have been a cleaner, stronger ending without the brief epilogue. The cast did a phenomenal job with the material. I hope it gets a full run somewhere.

  • MJK

    HERE HERE. I'll repeat what I posted on the open thread last week about this terrific production, one of the best so far for me (along with This is Your Brain on Rock n Roll, Dizzy Miss Lizzie, Super Claudio Bros, (Snap)shots from a Greyhound Headed Home and Freud Meets Girl). HORRIBLE CHILD is great. It's like a demented Albee-esque domestic comedy with Gorey/Carroll wordplay and a dash of Tim Burton. The cast is terrific and committed and wonderfully directed by Jose Carrasquillo with some fun stylized staging. Not quite as disturbing as I expected, more demented and twisted and very clever, funny writing by playwright/novelist Lawrence Krauser. An oddball MUST SEE.

  • Elizabeth

    I really liked this show -- laughed a lot. And I have to disagree with the reviewer's opinion on the epilogue. I found it agonizing, but in a good way: they're playing with the audience, making you squirm a little, and ultimately it's also funny. Plus, that scene's definitely not 15 minutes, probably more like 5 (less, even). I'd hate for someone to miss this gem because they think they'll be stuck sitting through "an unneccesary 15 minute epilogue." See this show!