Entertainment & Reviews
Review: My Thoughts on the Fall One Acts
I attended the Fall One Acts on Saturday, October 21.
Reagan High School has immense talent to be recognized, including talents on stage and behind the scenes. The Fall One Acts took me on an adventure through a series of emotions, feelings of sympathy, and existential ideas. Of the four presented pieces, there were One Acts clearly displaying success, and others in slight need of development. Here is my breakdown of the entire show —— an honest, opinionated report on the artistic representations of Reagan.
The Gray Areas of My Life *Directed by Carrie Baker, co-starring Celeste Dickson and Regis Brown, written by Kristen Leer
‘The Gray Areas of My Life’ was maybe the most compelling and surprising One Act of the entire show. To begin, the story was well written and continuously presented depths of writing, relationships, and life itself. The passion expressed towards writing and the beauty of storytelling is traceable —— playwright, Kristen Leer, is an avid wordsmith on her own time.
My critiques are merely specific, and mostly this show left a positive impression on me.
Simply put, Celeste Dickson was phenomenal. Her movement on stage was minimal but effective, and her diction was clear but subtle, perfectly representing the instability her character is living. As a writer with fears of experiencing the “gray areas” of life, for Dickson’s character, Skyler, life takes a turn when she moves in with her old friend, Peter (played by Regis Brown) and starts to fall in love. Skyler is in a wavering mental state, constantly breaking down internally and retiring to her writing for relief, but her intensifying emotions cannot be ignored. Dickson did a stellar job displaying this emotional development, and often let the audience in her stream of thoughts through soliloquies where she confessed her feelings. She was present, honest, relatable, and occasionally humorous throughout the show, but the production isn’t defined by Dickson alone.
Regis Brown, playing the role of Peter, did his job just fine: told the story. He played his character cleanly; he spoke the words from the script and spoke them well, but something about his demeanor on stage gave the impression that he wasn’t truly intact with his character—— something felt uncomfortable. Perhaps it was just a contrast next to Dickson, who seemed to connect with her character beyond the script, or perhaps the point wasn’t to feel emotionally attached to Peter in the first place.
Together, the two shared some memorable moments in their growing relationship. The chemistry on stage was almost more present during the silent exchanges, where the audience only saw the feelings, and felt the character’s connection. There was a moment where Peter covers Skyler with a blanket after she fell asleep on his shoulder, which was perfectly sweet and beautifully innocent, wonderfully capturing the essence of their relationship. I can’t imagine any other actors more successfully communicating the complexities of this fictional connection than Dickson and Brown.
My biggest take away? Celeste Dickson should have been in the spotlight long before her junior year.
Senior Collab 1: Nacirema *Written by/starring Shirley DeJesus, Harrison Dudek, Anna Rasmussen, and Gabriella Schmit
The first senior collaboration project woke me up to the importance of human togetherness. In the beginning, four individuals sat facing upstage in the dark, watching a montage of news clips, speeches, etc. of President Trump and the current political system as their shadows were cast upon the screen. They sat separately, emphasizing that politics have divided us. One individual stands to salute the display.
These four individuals (friends, you later find out) have extremely opposite perspectives. They speak of privilege, inequality, what it means to live in a fair society, and the question of the day: who is the opposition?
The show was carried by seniors Anna Rasmussen, Shirley DeJesus, Harrison Dudek, and Gabriella Schmit. My biggest critique for this piece was the way in which passion was communicated. Often when speaking on something important or significant, Rasmussen and Schmit consistently turned to their hands, shaping the bigs words around them with their motions, when really, the most powerful speeches were delivered by DeJesus and Dudek, who kept it simple and let the words make the impact. It’s okay to be still, and often times it better registers with the audience, especially when the words, such as these, carry such depth and meaning.
The closing was as beautiful as the opening. They turned their chairs to the screen again, their shadows cast upon the screen. They stood, as a whole rather than separately, and gave the audience a message worth hearing: standing together is what leads to change. Standing together is what we need now to prosper as a society.
Senior Collab 2: Ms. Wheeler *Written by/starring Nathan Barachy, Anna Rasmussen (understudy), Grace Newton, and Akeel Sindhi
I liked this piece for different reasons than the rest. Mostly, I enjoyed the technical creativity. The way that the lighting was used to communicate the mental transformations of a specific individual with mental instabilities provided both clarity for the audience and deeper stylistic element for the piece. I wasn’t thoroughly engaged because of the story, but moreso because of the lighting, costuming, etc.
The acting however, was still pretty good. Grace Newton, playing the role of the mentally unstable mother, clearly developed her character. Her portrayal felt real, and she brought me along through the journeys of her mind, helping me understand the severity of mental illness. The supporting characters were helpful, as well, for the most part. Nathan Barachy, playing the son, was an essential part of the story, and was successful in moving the piece along. Props to him for keeping it simple and clearly telling the story.
Carte Blanche *Directed and written by Gabriella Schmit, starring Alekzander Timmerman, Julia Matiszik, Anna Rasmussen, and Lauren O’Hear
This One Act began and instantly I was intrigued. A woman with a sleepy expression walks slowly across the stage to a man hard at work. They’re husband and wife, expecting a baby soon, but the husband keeps mentioning some sort of experiment with the baby, which we later find out involves the cloning of their soon to be born daughter. The experiment leads to complications later in the show. Alekzander Timmerman and Lauren O’Hear play the mother and father of their children and/or clones, Ingrid (played by Julia Matiszik) and Isabelle (played by Anna Rasmussen).
The greatest strength of the cast of ‘Carte Blanche’ was their ability to create palpable tension during scenes where the characters clashed and fought. The presence on stage wandered my mind from “I’m at a high school theatre production” to “this is a really great story, tell me more”. Between O’Hear and Timmerman, the passion was intense, and their anger radiated about them. The same goes for Matiszik and Timmerman later in the show when the story starts reaching its tipping point. Of Rasmussen’s three stage appearances during the show, this character best suited her. Unsurprisingly, Matiszik brings life to the stage yet again. Her voice was clear, her presence was strong, her character felt holistic in portrayal, and it was her I found myself focusing on when the lights went up and the curtains opened.
I felt, however, that certain points of the show could have used a day or two extra of rehearsal. The scene with the most intended intensity of the entire One Act was surpassed in severity by earlier scenes of arguing and disagreement. Possibly, the issue could have been a lack of build up for the climactic turn of events, or also likely that the reality of the situation was off. A good story requires realistic human behaviors, emotions, and instincts, even in a story revolving around an unrealistic plot.