Normally I don’t review high school productions. First of all, they are rarely, if ever, what I would call even mildly entertaining. Usually mind-numbingly awful, incredibly boring, and a complete waste of time are far closer. For the most part, they feature a few kids scrambling for lines and forgetting their cues. And who other than parents and teachers wants to endure that?
That’s not to say there is not a time and place for high school productions. They are very worthy for training up our next set of entertainers, but for me and this column, they are normally persona non grata.
I suppose that’s why I’m so surprised to be writing this particular column today. It was not on my schedule. I had no plans to write this review last week, and my editor may be somewhat surprised as well when I turn this in.
However, I must give credit where it’s due. Over the weekend, I went (okay, I was dragged) to my niece’s high school play, “Don’t Listen to the Fates.” Said niece had a small part, but my sister is a big part of my life, so I went, preparing to suffer through the evening and not much more.
What I found instead was a fully-engaging experience that I still can’t quite get out of my head. The entire cast was magnificent, but I give special kudos to the leads. Jaylon Quinn and Camille Wright were perfectly cast as the lovers that fate can’t quite figure out what to do with.
The premise of the three-act was boilerplate at best. Hot girl dumps guy. Guy wants to get even. Guy asks out hot girl’s shy and quiet sister, and then finds said sister much more to his liking. As plots go, not exactly my style, but less-than-horrible I suppose if you’re into the romance genre of entertainment.
But what grabbed at least this viewer’s attention was the depth and feeling Quinn and Wright brought to their scenes–especially when they were on stage together. In fact, in a real way, this viewer forgot this was a play, on a stage, in a musty auditorium. Maybe that’s sappy, but the truth is, I was caught up, feeling for Hawk (Quinn’s character) as he moved from selfish egotist to compassionate, caring friend, unveiling as he went a depth to the character not even the playwright could full have captured without this particular actor embodying the part.
And Wright… I don’t even know where to begin to capture the brilliance of her shining light on the stage. Show-stealer is an understatement. Those who have been reading these reviews for very long know I don’t go for silly sentimental hogwash that portends to tug at our heartstrings when in reality it tugs our lunch back up, but Wright as Lauren had me cheering from my seat when she dumped Hawk for using her. Moreover, she had me wiping a tear when she reappeared on stage, alone, and distraught after the break-up.
There was a part of me, (maybe it’s the new dad of a baby girl thing who can ever tell?) that wanted to go up and hug her–right after knocking Hawk’s block off for hurting her like that.
Suffice it to say, this reviewer was very impressed with the acting chops displayed by these marvelously talented young thespians. I will tell you this much: I have thought about and relived scenes from that play in my heart and in my head more over this past weekend than I have any movie I have seen in quite some time.
Maybe it was my mood. Maybe it was the night. Maybe no one else thought it was at all remarkable. Who knows? But for one small moment in time I literally held my breath for the final kiss.
And it did not disappoint.