You don't have to be a Star Wars fanatic to like Joe Zettelmaier's 2006 heist comedy about a group of twentysomething fanboys (and one fangirl) who plan to steal a fortune in mint-condition Star Wars action figures. But it doesn't hurt if you know a fanboy or two IRL, the better to appreciate how well Zettlemaier's script captures the aggressive geekiness of these twenty- and early thirtysomethings who know everything there is to know about the Star Wars universe but can barely navigate this one. (Zettelmaier comes by this knowledge naturally; he is an honorary member of the 501st Legion, an international Star Wars cosplay club.)
Zettelmaier's carefully structured play follows the basic pattern of the heist genre. First we meet the gang—each member quirky in his or her own way, with a special skill to bring to the table—led by a nerdy ringleader (ably played by Eric Eilersen) who still lives at home with his mom. Then we hear in exquisite detail their well-laid plans for penetrating a Kenner warehouse and stealing a fortune in Star Wars booty. The second act is the heist itself and its aftermath.
It's a measure of Zettelmaier's skill as a playwright that All Childish Things never feels formulaic even when it adheres most closely to the formula of the genre. Director Melanie Keller and her cast and crew at First Folio also deserve their share of praise. In their hands, the production unfolds with the grace of a well-maintained droid. v