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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

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Review: One Acts demonstrate variety, versatility of Theatre department

A balcony shot of Paly Theatre's adaptation of "No Exit," directed by Sabrina Sonner. " Photo by Dalia Van Zyll
A balcony shot of Paly Theatre’s adaptation of “No Exit,” directed by Sabrina Sonner, featuring senior Guive Assadi, junior Clara Baker and sophomore Claire Eberhart. “No Exit” is the only drama featured in “One Acts.” Photo by Dalia Van Zyll.

After two successful performances, the Palo Alto High School Theatre department’s “One Acts” has its final performance at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Haymarket Theatre. The showcase highlights versatile student talent in acting, directing and playwriting and the diverse lineup of plays presented make for a fun and engaging evening of theater.

“One Acts” is the theatre department’s final showcase of the year, and while it lacks the grandeur of full-length productions, the showcase allows for heavy student involvement, specifically in directing and writing. The night features five one-act plays, all of which are entirely student directed, including a student original, “The Sphinx,” written by senior Guive Assadi.

The night starts off with “The Marriage Proposal,” written by the acclaimed Anton Chekhov and directed by senior Katherine Craig. In it, a man named Ivan, played by freshman Sam Kim, has his marriage proposal to Natalyia, played by senior Riley Cassidy, go horribly wrong due to comical miscommunications. Sophomore Joelle Dong’s character acts as both the mother of Natalyia and as the mediator between Natalyia and Ivan. The play features excellent control of difficult language by all three actors, a tribute to the directorial work of Craig, as well as skillful comedic timing by Dong as the mother. While the pace of the play feels a bit rushed at times, the show starts off “One Acts” in an exciting fashion.

The next play is “The Auditioners,” written by Doug Rand, and co-directed by senior Hannah Nguyen and junior Sophie Swezey. The play follows no structured plot. Instead, it features a collection of comical monologues presented to a panel of stern casting directors. The play includes 17 actors, by far the largest cast in “One Acts”, each of whom contribute something unique. Particular standouts include freshman Alexandra Dinu as Auditioner #1, sophomore Chayenne Greenburg as Auditioner #3 and sophomore Jackson Kienitz as Auditioner #10. While the play is well-directed, it feels a bit too long for “One Acts,” and could have been easily been trimmed slightly.

The next play is an adaptation of “No Exit,” written by French playwright Jean-Paul Sartre and directed by senior Sabrina Sonner. The only drama of the night, the plot revolves around three characters: a man named Cradeau, played by Assadi, and two women named Inez and Estelle, played by junior Clara Baker and sophomore Claire Eberhart, respectively. The premise is that their afterlives involve being locked in a room with each other for the rest of eternity. All three actors develop a unique sense of character, and the conflict between Baker and Eberhart’s characters is both compelling and effective. While the actors all did a fantastic job, the best aspect of the show is the staging, as it significantly added to the drama of the performance.

“The Actor’s Nightmare” is the fourth and final adapted script of the evening, written by Christopher Durang and directed by sophomore Jason Pollak.  The protagonist, George, played by sophomore Joey Kellison-Lin, is a man who is unwillingly pushed onto the stage to perform plays such as “Hamlet” and “Private Lives.” His inexperience leads him to do ridiculous things such as slapping his scene partners, sitting in trash cans, and taking off his pants on the middle of the stage. 

The play leaves a strong impression, as the comedic display is phenomenal. Kellison-Lin’s performance as George is both convincing and hilarious and the show as a whole perfectly fits the atmosphere of “One Acts.”

The last play of the night is “The Sphinx,” written by Assadi and directed by senior Oskar Soderberg. A mysterious figure named “The Sphinx,” played by junior Zoe Limbrick, comes into a high school student’s bedroom and threatens to eat the student’s paper unless she completes three tasks. Assadi’s comedic writing along with Soderberg’s direction helps bring this absurdist tale to life, and effectively ends One Acts on a slightly ridiculous note. While Assadi’s script does have a couple jokes that maybe not everybody would understand, the creative original script is the perfect way to end an entertaining evening.

The variety of the plays and the versatility of the Paly Theatre students in “One Acts” are impressive and speak to the strength of the department. While “One Acts” this year runs fairly long, the various plays are must-sees.

“One Acts” will play again at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Haymarket Theater. Tickets cost $5 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults.

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