The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Now playing at Circle in the Square on Broadway.

The cast of characters in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a field guide to early adolescent geekdom. The relentless academic overachiever, the hyperactive boy clinging to childhood, the shy introvert with an oddball sense of humor, the hormone-addled boy who crumbles into inarticulate giggles around pretty girls, the too-precocious kid who spouts her parents’ beliefs without truly understanding them—they’re all here, awkward and vulnerable and eager to please.

Spelling Bee sometimes leads a bit too hard on cliché (the overachiever is, of course, an Asian-American girl), but for the most part, it gets the kids right. They’re at the age when the pressure to grow up and fit in hasn’t yet softened or sanded off or veiled the idiosyncratic lumps of their personalities, and Spelling Bee embraces that, affectionately reveling in the young spellers’ foibles and quirks.