Twelve and On Fire

'Troublemaker' a Pre-Teen Angst Spectacle at Berkeley Rep

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Bradley Boatright is a troublemaker.

Twelve years old, possessed of a potent imagination, haunted by a childhood tragedy he considers the critical piece in his origin story, Bradley (played with elastic authenticity by New York actor Gabriel King) sees himself as the hero of an epic comic book adventure—though the real details of is life may be anything but comic. In Dan LeFranc’s colorful new youth-riot spectacle Troublemaker, or the Freakin’ Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatwright—running through Feb. 3 at Berkeley Repertory Theater—pre-teen angst is blended with unexpected insight. In three distinct acts, LeFranc heightens everything: the youthful dialogue is a gloriously stylized barrage of code words and slyly softened obscenities. Bullies behave like super-villains from a James Bond movie. Adults are seen as monsters, Nazis, zombies, or pirates. And though Bradley likes to treat his best friend Mickey Minkle (Chad Goodridge) as his sidekick, by the third act, even Bradley is forced to admit that maybe his troublemaking behavior is masking a monster-sized insecurity. Directed by Lila Neugebauer, the slightly stretched show is a whimsically awesome coming of age story, with an ending that is not exactly happy—but it is surprisingly, hopefully, painfully, real.

For showtime information, see Berkeley Repertory Theater.

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