Even Steven Goes to War,” a heartfelt play about a young boy’s journey through the Vietnam War, debuted this weekend at the Little Theatre.
An imaginative “Even Steven,” played by the talented Jessica Hope Kummer, prepares for a move out of his childhood home by playing a war game with some friends. Even Steven has a steadfast fascination with the war, as the grandfather he never met fought in it and never came home. Even appears to live with his grandmother, and though she is insistent that Even forget about the war, he becomes more enamored when he discovers a locked wooden box that his grandfather built. He goes to sleep dreaming of the box, and while he is asleep, he meets “Joey,” the boy who is to move into his house.
Joey and Even quickly become best friends and set out to search for Even’s missing grandfather. In the still of the night, the boys suddenly hear the sound of footsteps and a platoon of soldiers appear on stage. After ending up in a manhole, they risk captivity by a group of revolutionaries, who stage their protest against the war by sitting.
When Joey exclaims that sitting isn’t actually doing anything to stop the war, the revolutionaries grow suspicious. Luckily, a kind-hearted hippie by the name of Olivia, played by the convincing Deidre Lee, helps the boys out of the sewer and back out into the world. From there on, Joey is shipped overseas as a soldier, and Even sets out on a quest to find him and his grandfather.
The play is punctuated by a series of intriguing characters like Heinz, Even’s stuffed dog, played by an energetic and believable Tiffany Brkich. Even encounters a slew of different soldiers and people through out the play, and the small cast did a spectacular job switching seamlessly between roles.
This play has an underlying theme of the validity and worth of imagination – If Even were to simply forget about his grandfather, as requested by his grandma, his imagination would not have taken him on such a full-filling and eye opening journey.
Even learns the realities of war the hard way, encountering numerous deaths and catastrophic scenarios while he is embedded as what the Commander believes to be a “war correspondent.”
“Even Steven Goes to War” is a play of political and social importance, as its message rings loud and clear in comparison to the situation our country currently faces. The underlying message promotes the changing of perspective and the ability to look at a conflict from all sides.
Technically speaking, the role of Even Steven was executed flawlessly. Kummer did a perfect job translating the spirit of a pre-pubescent boy and captured his hope and excitability with the skill of a trained professional. All of the actors and actresses within this production were well-versed in their roles, and demonstrated on-stage that a character’s perceived age is no boundary.
Even Steven’s friends were especially humorous and they began the play with the light-hearted, nonchalant attitudes of bratty children, but ended it with the respectable air of soldiers fighting for our country’s freedom.
If you’re in the mood for a play that stimulates a profound message of social and political importance, Even Steven just might be for you. It will be playing through March 9 at the CSUN Little Theater.
Don’t forget to let your imagination run with it – as Even’s grandma says, “You’re only going to see things differently when you change the way you look.”