It's a tough call: making entertainment from a story that draws on national tragedy and the death of many children. Yet with columbinus, playwrights Stephen Karam and PJ Paparelli have managed to create an enlightening analysis of the April 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado. Theyve combined excerpted interviews with survivors, community leaders, and parents with home-video footage and diary entries to illustrate the darker corners of American teenage life.
Critics of the plays New York production carped that its fictionalized first act is unsubtle, with setups of typical teenagers (the popular girl, the jock, the nerd) who introduce themselves as baldly unkind kids who mean no harm. But the plays second act, in which obscured versions of Columbine Highs infamous Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold finally turn up, ignites with scary revelations about how high school hierarchy can lead to murder.