David Crabb's one-man show Bad Kid at the Axis Theatre Company is an enjoyable and sweet tale of Crabb's personal experiences growing up as a gay boy and goth in Texas. Written and performed by Crabb and co-written and directed by Josh Matthews, Crabb's love of his subjects comes through in every scene. He paints sharp portraits of his friends, his family and the people he encountered in his journey to adulthood. Punctuated with a few actual photos of the people he talks about, a music heavy soundtrack and some nice sound-work, the 75 minute show covers his teenage years, his loves, losses and mistakes made along the way.
There is also a particularly hilarious sequence about pickles and I may never be able to eat a cornichon again.
In the end I felt it was charming, but a bit slight. Repetitive scenes about his youthful drug-use got a little tiresome. And the perspective on these friendships and relationships comes a bit late in the show. Much like a teenager, the show is heavy on emotional ups and downs but lacks an adult outlook to give structure and resonance to all the scenes. Crabb is a compelling performer and a storyteller to watch (and clearly 2012 is the year I collect storytellers--I have joked I am going to start a boy band called The Monologuists I just need to get Daniel Kitson, Mike Daisey and now David Crabb on board). His portraits spring to life in vivid colors and I would be curious to see other works by him in the future.