Last night I went to see Problem Child at Michigan State. It was a student production directed by MFA student Daryl Thompson. I don't have my program with me at the moment, so the only actor I can tell you for certain is that my husband Richard played Philly. The other actors are Jacqueline, Paul, and Molly--I'll try to remember to update later with their full names.
It was quite the intense play, one that forces the audience to make up their own minds about the issue; the playwright doesn't try to force-feed anything to the audience. The characters are all trapped in their own world and in their own vision of the world. Denise and R.J. have returned to their hometown to try to recover their baby, a baby that was taken from them when Denise's mother turned her in for abusing drugs and turning tricks. R.J. was in prison at the time.
Denise characterizes herself, R.J., and the drunken hotel clerk/receptionist/room attendant at the strip dive they are staying at as "scum of the earth." It's a highly unromantized look at those people who are in poverty and who are trapped by their situations and by the poor choices that they make. Helen as the social worker would agree with her assessment, branding Denise as a wicked, bad girl.
There's a lot in this play to think about and both the acting and directing were stupendously intense. There is one more performance of the play this evening.