Urban Samurai's "Bright Ideas" sends up competitive parenting psychosis

Categories: Theater
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Ready for the cutthroat rat race
​Anyone with children can tell you that, for certain parents, the experience brings out a fiendish competitive streak. You don't want to compare your children to theirs? Too bad: the march is on to a perfect future, just not for your offspring. Urban Samurai Productions's Aaron Christopher opted to stage Eric Coble's Bright Ideas when he felt the same stirrings within himself. 

"I was expecting my first child at the time," says Christopher of the time when the script was suggested to him. "I didn't know what I was in for. Am I going to go crazy? Am I going to go on a psychotic rampage of needing to get him or her into the perfect school?"

Bright Ideas concerns a couple with a three-year-old on a waiting list to get into an exclusive preschool. In their world, gaining admittance is perceived to guarantee greatness for a child; not getting in means ruin. Over a dinner party they walk a high wire of what they think is either the ultimate success or failure--as well as their own validation as parents. 

"There's so much pressure parents put on themselves," notes Christopher. "Their child has to have the absolute best opportunity conceivable, even if it means bending or breaking the rules."

Urban Samurai specializes in dark, biting satires, and a send-up of materialistic, success-obsessed parents presents loads of material to lampoon. The natural follow-up then presents itself: now that Christopher is a parent, has he indeed gone psychotic?

"No, I have not," Christopher says with a note of relief in his voice. "I think this play actually helped me circumvent that to a certain degree. There's this amazing wellspring of guilt that starts rising up in you, especially if both parents work, that kids should be in swimming lessons and language immersion and all these different things."

His own child, he notes, has just learned to sit up. It's never too early, though, to nip those psychotic impulses in the bud. 

"This play parodies that mentality and how it can spiral out of control," says Christopher, adding that, in his own case, "I reined myself in. We're not on any waiting lists."

Bright Ideas opens this Friday and runs through May 23. Tickets are $10-$16, available here

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