Out of the Wings

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Crecer (c.2008), Maxi Rodríguez

English title: Growing Pains
Date written: c. 2008
Keywords: family, family > adolescence, identity, love > friendship, family > parents and children
Genre and type: comedy

The life of a teenager is never simple. There are friends to see and text messages to send. But for sixteen-year-old Adrian, things are about to get a lot more complicated, as his long-lost father Alex enters his life. Alex is a man who has never grown up, and soon all the adults in Adrian’s life are behaving like children. Growing Pains brings out the child in all of us, while showing us that grown-ups – and growing up – can be a right pain in the arse.


Adrian lives with his mother Rosa and his father Pepe. He is a typical sixteen-year-old. He loiters in the park with his best friend Danny and is addicted to his mobile phone. Adrian’s life becomes much more complicated when he discovers that Alex, not Pepe, is in fact his biological father. Alex, Rosa and Pepe were once inseparable childhood friends. Now, Alex wants to re-enter his friends’ lives and  finally meet his son. Adrian is understandably hesitant to establish a relationship with the father who abandoned him sixteen years ago. Despite this, Pepe and Rosa invite Alex to celebrate his thirty-seventh birthday with them. Suddenly, all three adults are transported 30 years into the past to Alex’s seventh birthday. Little Alex makes a wish that all three children will be together forever. But the adults’ fantastical journey back in time ends abruptly. Adrian returns home, and comes face-to-face with his father for the first time. As the stage goes dark, Adrian tells the audience how bizarre it was to see this stranger laughing and joking with his parents, as if they had never been apart.

As Adrian’s biological father comes into his life, his maternal grandfather is slowly leaving it. The old man’s mind is going, so that he no longer recognises his daughter Rosa and mistakes Adrian for his own father. The poor teenager feels like his entire family is falling apart. Despondent, he heads to the park to complain to Danny about the adults in his life. Danny, too, has parent trouble – he can’t stand his own father. Meanwhile, Adrian’s father continues to rekindle his old friendship with Pepe and Rosa. His attempts to connect with Adrian, however, are less successful. The teenager is increasingly bemused by Alex’s impact on his family. Ever since his arrival, Alex, Pepe and Rosa have been constantly joking and behaving like children. To escape, Adrian spends his time with his grandfather or with Danny. Soon, Danny gets to see for himself just how immature the adults in Adrian’s life are. While he and Adrian chat in the park, Alex arrives, wearing a banana on his head and acting the fool. A typical teenager, Adrian is embarrassed. Danny sympathises, and asks his friend how he is going to deal with this new father. As the stage goes dark once again, Adrian confesses to us that he still had no idea, but that he surprised himself by telling both Alex and Pepe that his mobile phone was confiscated in school. Subsequently, both Alex and Pepe visit Adrian’s teacher to demand the phone back. Alex arrives first, and after he leaves, Pepe turns up. Not surprisingly, the teacher believes himself the victim of a joke. Outraged, he sends Pepe packing. Adrian is also outraged when he hears what his fathers have been up to. He tries to remind them that they are the adults, not he. But Pepe and Alex, and indeed Rosa, are enjoying their rediscovered childhood far too much – Pepe is even sucking a baby’s dummy!

The adult’s immature behaviour intensifies in scene 13 as Pepe and Alex pretend they are unruly infants. This is the last straw for Adrian, who shouts at them to behave like adults. To lighten the mood, Alex tries to convince everyone that the child we once were remains with us forever. He compares childhood to a plane’s black box; no matter what happens, it is always with us. This idea inspires Adrian to give his grandfather his very own ‘black box’ – a shoebox filled with mementoes from his childhood. Finally, it seems that Alex has had a positive influence on Adrian. In fact, the next time Adrian meets Danny, he is considering becoming an actor and wants to write a play over the summer about Alex’s effect on his family. Danny also has summer plans. He is going to England to stay with his mother, unable to stand his father anymore.

In preparing to help Adrian with his play – called, appropriately, Growing Pains – Rosa, Alex and Pepe find themselves back in the old space where they used to perform. Years ago, they were all part of an amateur theatre group. The three adults become so wrapped up in silly improvisations about growing up that they do not notice as Adrian arrives, sees them, and leaves in disgust. Even so, as the stage goes dark, Adrian tells the audience that he decided to commit to the summer project, so as to make his friend Danny proud. Danny, however, never gets to see Growing Pains. He dies suddenly and unexpectedly over the summer. Adrian pays a visit to the grieving father. This man, whom Danny was always complaining about, now stands devastated in his son’s room, playing with an electric train set. He tells Adrian he never played with the train set with Danny, and urges the boy to appreciate time with his own parents while he can. After this, in the final scene, Pepe, Rosa and Alex are dressed up as the Three Wise Men, dancing to disco music. They were similarly attired in scene 1, but in that instance they were interrupted by Adrian, who shouted at them for acting like children. Now, when Adrian arrives, he joins in. Dancing, all the characters unwrap their own black box of childhood memories, and they all improvise their own tale of growing up, reassured that the child they once were will always be with them.


Peter Pan Syndrome.

In scene 12 Danny explains the childish behaviour of Adrian’s family as being symptomatic of Peter Pan Syndrome. This is not a recognised psychological disorder, but is a term used in popular culture with reference to adults who consistently behave in age-inappropriate ways.

Further information

Crecer (Growing Pains) was written for the Basque Teatro Paraíso Antzerkia. This theatre has a specific educational interest in staging plays aimed at children and young people. The play is aimed at young people aged 14 and over.

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 4 January 2011.

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