At Bricolage, Speech & Debate confronts censorship, sexuality and online life among kids and adults. | Theater Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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At Bricolage, Speech & Debate confronts censorship, sexuality and online life among kids and adults.

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A high school teacher shares online sex talk with boys; recriminations follow. If the premise for Stephen Karam's comedic drama Speech & Debate sounds ripped from the headlines, it kind of is.

Inspired by a real incident in Oregon, Karam depicts three smart, if confused, kids coming of age while coping with repressive parental and scholastic regimes: Howie, the out, 18-year-old sex-chatter; Diwata, a compulsive blogger and wannabe stage star; and Solomon, an aspiring journalist with his own secret. 

The play's also full of music, including Diwata's hilarious songs interpreting The Crucible, whose thematic significance becomes obvious. The premiere production of Speech & Debate, in 2007 at New York's Roundabout Theater Company, drew a rave from The New York Times.

The Pittsburgh premiere, at Bricolage Theatre, features three collegiate actors -- Matt Henderson, Laura Melchiorre and Paul Victor -- with Gayle Pazerski in two adult roles.

Like Bricolage's enthralling 2009 show Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, Karam's play depicts kids dealing with adult issues, often through social media. The sex scandals are catalysts. "Those scandals ... become less and less important as the kids confront their own secrets," says Bricolage's Jeffrey Carpenter, who directs. "It's really about how our secrets often drive us [to act] in ways that contrast with what is true for us individually."

 

Bricolage Productions presents Speech & Debate Sat., April 24-May 8. $12-20. 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-381-6999 or candace@webbricolage.org

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