David Crabb was a lot of things as a kid, but bad wasn’t really one of them. Which is part of what makes his tell-all solo show, Bad Kid — now at the Axis Theatre, directed by Josh Matthews — so endearingly enjoyable.
Not to underestimate Crabb’s travails as one of the few gay, goth teenagers in early-Nineties Texas. In genial, uncomplicated terms, he tells us about his youthful revelation — upon seeing a group of velvet-bedecked, Manic Panic–hued miscreants crossing a Texas street — that his heart belonged to a subculture of clubs, drugs, and fishnet everything.
Smitten with his new identity, Crabb takes the Texan path less traveled. Along the way, he describes coming out to his straitlaced parents, exploring the dubious highs available from ingesting Vicks inhalers (not recommended), and survival strategies in a town whose main attraction is a statue of a very large pecan. In a series of good-natured caricatures, Crabb portrays bohemian fellow travelers like screechy, iridescent-haired Sylvia, and Max, the pro-diversity skinhead.
Crabb’s story would benefit from some editing (you can read it all in the memoir he released this year, which, conveniently enough, is also titled Bad Kid). Not every shenanigan is as shocking as he seems to think. But maybe that’s the point: Growing up is similar everywhere, even when you’re caked with white facepaint under the Texas sun.
Written and performed by David Crabb
1 Sheridan Square