Tough!
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by David Allen

Is the battle of the sexes any different for 19 year olds living in a rundown city project area? Canadian playwright George F. Walker sees the same oppositeness of the sexes in his young characters as there is in other age groups. Perhaps the only difference, for the teenage characters in his play Tough!, is the energetic way that their problems bubble over into language. “And they’re times when having stirring emotions isn’t enough; it’s very important to try and articulate what these emotions are,” said Walker. “Therefore, language meets emotion and that’s the territory that I’m interested in…”

When his characters talk, they’re often talking out of the confusion and turbulence of youth. Their words are cutting and poignant but also spontaneous and funny, and this odd mix allows the author to explore many pearls of wisdom through the natural stumbling-through-life way of youth suddenly faced with the overwhelming responsibility of growing up.

“I wanted to grow up, I didn’t know I had to do it all of a sudden,” says Bobby (Danny Wolohan) after being ganged up on by his girlfriend Tina (Amanda Duarte) and her friend Jill (Maria Candelaria). Tina is pregnant and her and Jill are trying to get Bobby to accept the responsibility. They accuse him of being a little boy and that all men are little boys who refuse to grow up. Bobby accuses them of a female conspiracy against men. Why is it that all women think of men as little boys and constantly bitch at them about growing up, he asks and the battle of the sexes is up and running with those eternal mysteries that plague men and women of all age groups.

The battle gets hot and heavy but is never without an underlying humor. “Maybe I’m wrong, but it struck me that the extremity of the passion also has a lot to do with the play’s humor,” Walker said, “… the comedy comes out… either as a kind of release, or a shared recognition from the audience.”

Indeed, members of the audience can’t help seeing their own struggles with the opposite sex acted out for them on stage. They’re able to face and laugh about things that may have been too “tough” to face directly in their own lives.

For tickets or more information about this excellent production, directed by Soren Oliver, call (510) 843-4822 or visit Aurora’s website at www.auroratheatre.org.

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