Reviewed by Sarah Lockwood
Joshua and Sid have a lot in common. As a severely autistic teen, Joshua has just as much trouble communicating as Sid the houseplant. But in an alternate reality, boy and plant have a friendship rooted in a love of Seinfeld and a good comedy routine.
This heart-warming, hilarious relationship at the heart of The Joshua Plant provides a window into autism. Through his conversations with Sid, we understand why Joshua laughs at inappropriate times, why sign language is so frustrating and how truly misunderstood the disease is.
Written by Amy Berlin and P. Ann Bucci, The Joshua Plant is the winner of Chamberlayne Actors Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Original Play Contest, selected from dozens of plays submitted by Virginia playwrights. The idea for The Joshua Plant began to take shape as Ann watched a friend’s child with severe autism on the beach and made its full-length premier at CAT under the direction of Laurie Follmer.
The dramedy explores the struggles autism caretakers face, abusive relationships and even addiction as the unlikely duo of plant and boy work to save Josh’s mother from her manipulative boyfriend, Jimmy, and prevent Jimmy’s plan to place Josh in an institution.
Aaron Orensky, who plays Sid, nearly steals the show with his teenage-like addiction to social media and expertly timed one-liners. (Who knew stamen and fronds make great for comedic gold?)
Indeed, the cast of five was incredibly strong with super kudos to Diego Salinas, who visited the Dominion School for Autism to research for his part as Joshua. His seamless transitions between parallel universes demonstrate great care for the role and enormous understanding for such a young actor.
Brave the cold to see this thought-provoking show in the intimate CAT theatre and you won’t be sorry. Parents should certainly get a babysitter for The Joshua Plant, which includes adult concepts and shocking simulated violence. CAT rightly recommends the play for ages thirteen and up.
Jan 24, 25, 30, 31 and February 1,6,7,8 at 8:00 p.m.
January 26 and February 2 and 8 at 2:30 p.m.
For tickets, call 888-695-0888, visit cattheatre.com or go to CAT Theatre