An adult actor attempting to portray a child can be extremely annoying, as is the case in Arlene Hutton's Happy Worst Day Ever, at the 4th Street Theatre. And in this work, which focuses on a quartet of sixth graders, the worst offender is Dana Brooke as Glorie, who speaks in an exaggerated "kiddie" voice and tends to overplay all of her mannerisms.
Glorie is a student with below average grades who is obsessed with who will win an American Idol-like television contest. She is tutored by fellow student Jacob (nicely underplayed by Mark St. Cyr), who wants desperately for his father, a soldier, to come home in time for Jacob's birthday. Added into the mix are Glorie's best friend Emma (Kelly Pekar), and Jacob's only friend, Chris (Jacob Moore).
Hutton's script paints Glorie and Emma as broad caricatures, even if she does allow for a bit of growth by show's end. The work is more successful in depicting Jacob, who is the most fully fleshed out character. An African-American boy whose mother works in the school's cafeteria, Jacob has a racial and class background that sets him apart from the rest of his peers and also seems to give him a drive that they lack.
The play is one of four festival offerings marked "Fringe Jr.," and aimed more at children than adults. It contains some easily digestible lessons that kids can take away, but seems lacking in any real insight.
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