Fringe Reviews: The Kid Was A Spy

Jem Rolls. Montreal Fringe for All. Photo Rachel Levine Jem Rolls. Montreal Fringe for All. Photo Rachel Levine

When Jem Rolls comes onstage, one knows the language will be elevated, the delivery will be flawless, and the subject will have been well-researched and most importantly, the experience will be divinely theatrical.

I did not see Oppenheim the movie, but I understand the insanity of the bomb and nuclear weapons. I am old and remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and because I “gave at the office,” the main subject of The Kid Was a Spy is not a fascinating subject to me.  However, the idea that the Cold War and the East-West nuclear balance was deliberately caused by a brilliant boy physicist, that is amazing.

As I was in Nicaragua during its civil war and witnessed some of the  horrible effects of the Reagan-fed Contras, I have never been a  fan of the U.S. military establishment. My parents and brother spent years in Siberia for the unforgivable crime of being refugees, so I have no love for Stalin. Yet, I felt that Jem Roll’s construction of Ted Hall’s motivation was utterly believable and probably as close as anyone could come. He was innocently assuming that balance was the solution to “the bomb”.

The work exonerates Ethel Rosenberg, which I also felt was believable, and the description of the love between Ted and Lona alone was worth the trip to Mainline when there were no buses running (thanks, Tour de l’Isle). Jem Rolls is a consummate performer, and I would probably got to hear him read a dictionary, but the story he builds with this work is  truly dramatic and really very clever.

Physics and bombs are not of great interest to me, BUT in the context of a revelation about a teen spy at Los Alamos, It becomes utterly intriguing.

The Kid Was a Spy is at the Mainline Theatre on June 3 as part of the Montreal Fringe Festival. Info and tickets HERE.