Colt Coeur continues its streak of grade-A downtown productions. Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, who helmed “Fish Eye” for the company last year, and Clark have crafted a creepy, suspenseful, impeccably acted production in the intimate Wild Project. Clark’s play is messed up in the best way possible. The basic premise is that children have innate moral tendencies, and when those inclinations go against basic human laws, they can be killed and revived as a new person for a second chance.
Lucy is a 13-going-on-14-year-old, who is mopping up a stain on a motel room carpet when the play opens. The stain looks like blood but could be the lava from her homemade volcano. She and her mother, nomadic singer and washed-up Southern belle Justine, are moving again after the death of Justine’s ex-boyfriend Ed, and end up in a safe house with David, who has regular visits with troubled recountant Charlotte. At school, Lucy befriends loner Quinn, who is on “The List,” while Justine takes an interest in David that leads to drastic ends.
Jordyn DiNatale is a young actor to keep an eye on. Her blank-eyed Lucy is equal parts charming and just plain frightening, and she finds a way to make this deeply troubled girl into a sympathetic yet utterly detestable character. Katya Campbell, also in “Fish Eye,” balances the line between mother and friendly companion in her jittery Justine. Owen Campbell looks like the definition of a loser as Quinn -- partially thanks to Tony-winner Paloma Young’s character-specific costumes. Caleb Scott plays both David and a reluctant small-town man who finds himself in a troubling situation. In addition to DiNatale, the performance of the evening belongs to Colleen Werthmann as Charlotte, a recountant with a mysterious past. Werthmann channels her character’s quirks in a humorous and heartbreaking way.
John McDermott’s scenic design divides the action nicely into two areas onstage—one for the house and one for the recountant offices—while Grant Yeager’s lighting allows the set to transform into other locales as well. Aaron Rhynes’ projections, mostly of security camera footage, add to the suspense and transition the scenes well.
In the vein of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, Clark’s play is very topical in our world of bullying and “The Hunger Games.” By putting the matter in the hands of children, Clark questions how evil comes to be—and what evil is in the first place.
Presented by Colt Coeur at the Wild Project, 195 E. 3rd St., NYC. June 12-July 7. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun.-Tue., 7 p.m. (212) 352-3101 or www.ovationtix.com.