Just Another High School Play falls flat


By Hadley Gaff, Features Editor

"supporting" cast can't seem to support Higginbotham

As Higginbotham is hoisted up by his fellow actors, the rickety gurney collapses sending him face first into the stage floor.  

 

Just Another High School Play debuted November 5 with a repeat performance November 7. Its events were the consequence of Steve Pearson’s disappearance. After seeing his Advanced Theatre Arts students missing rehearsals, avoiding their lines, and lackadaisically addressing the play, Pearson ran away to Mexico. Or, at least, he should have.

   The premise that not one of the actors knew what they were doing was incredibly believable. It was nearly impossible to watch from the audience and imagine that even one cast member had practiced their part. Perhaps it was the improv. Perhaps not. For Pearson to be able to teach that level of stage ineptness in students of an advanced caliber speaks highly to his talent of directing.

   Sitting in the audience as the live jazz band pre-show entertainment left the stage, I waited anxiously, camera in hand, for the play to commence. A beam of red light circled over the patrons to a suspenseful tone. Suddenly, the music ended. The light went out. All was dark.

    The music flared up again as the red light bounced back into action running circles through the theatre. A head peeked out from behind the curtain. Senior Michaelle DiMaggio-Potter, the stage manager, stepped into the spotlight, but only for a moment. A few seconds later, DiMaggio-Potter returned with the student assistant director, sophomore MaKayla Hansen, in tow. The two commenced in an argument that lasted the entirety of the play ranging in topics from the death of a grandma to the kidnapping of Steve Pearson. DiMaggio-Potter played the mean, austere stage manager to perfection, while her adversary, Hansen, gave an equally convincing performance as the foolish, off-track student assistant director.

It was in-between the outbursts of these antagonists that the short parodies of commonly performed high school plays were exhibited. Beginning with the history of the theatre and ending with a skit of surrealism, the first act left nothing to be desired. It was during this time that the play reached its highest moment, and its lowest.

The “Christopher Marlowe: The Elizabethan True Hollywood Story” scene started out like any other. It wasn’t until Shakespeare (played by sophomore Christian Onley) entered that the real magic happened. Upon his introduction, Shakespeare proceeded to confront Marlowe (played by sophomore Brendan Higginbotham). During this conflict, it was revealed that Marlowe was a hemophiliac and that he had received a near fatal wound to his finger. Ailing from this injury and losing blood quickly, Higginbotham soon ‘passed out’. And then it happened. As his fellow actors lifted him by wrist and ankle onto a gurney, it tipped forward and Higginbotham’s left arm was released. This sent him and the gurney face first into the stage floor. Choking back tears of laughter, I knew nothing could top the beautiful gift this scene had just handed me, or the headline I pulled from the mishap.

The second act followed shortly after with an even wider array of allusions, but the stand out scene had to be the “A Christmas Carol Rap.” It wasn’t until after the forced dialogue was over and the rapping began that the impressive quality of this scene manifested. The fast paced, rhythmic talking executed by senior Corey Miller and junior Seth Pendergrass was quite astonishing. It briefly broke the illusion that this play had not been rehearsed. For how else could this seemingly random rap be preformed so coherently?  

The impression of the actors having not prepared was quickly restored as the ladders were rushed on stage for the “Our Town, This Town” segment. Its reestablishment depended only on the horrifically fake accents soon to be exhibited.

Overall, the entire cast did an exemplary job continuously abiding by the presiding premise of the play—that no preemptive effort had gone into its execution. Each actor had their moment in the spotlight outshining their fellow thespians, but it was Pearson who stole the show. Swooping in at the end adorned in rags, Pearson brought the play to a close with a shocking twist. He hadn’t in fact left for Mexico. He had been kidnapped! And by no other than the student assistant director Hansen.

Leaving the theatre, I could do nothing but chuckle at the incredibly interesting, not-at-all-what-I-was-expecting play that I had just witnessed. 

 

Play cast

The entire cast of Just Another High School Play takes their final bow on closing night.