by Anika Mittu ‘19
As a series of student-directed short plays, C.A.S.T.’s annual Winter One Acts often goes unnoticed by the vast Sherwood community. Yet, on January 18 and 22, a group of student actors explored childhood, adolescence and the mishaps of romance through five mini productions that left the audience feeling lucky to have attended the typically overlooked performance.
The evening began with “The Future Is in Your Tiny Hands,” a one-act play that transformed the dim Ertzman theatre into the absurd world of an elementary school student election. Through the strong comedic acting of senior Natalie Murray and sophomore Adam Levine, the performance captured the spirit of childlike imaginations and interactions. References to tater-tot lunches and cooties also helped create a sense of nostalgia in an audience consisting mainly of high-schoolers.
Seconds after lights faded on the animated elementary school scene, the stage became illuminated once again with a peculiar love story that unraveled into a break-up. “Surprise,” a one-act featuring the smallest cast of the evening, displayed the final moments of a relationship between a psychic, portrayed by junior Jeffrey Martin, and his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, played by senior Lily Rathbun. The pair pulled off witty dialogue while balancing Martin’s laidback interpretation of his character with Rathbun’s feisty depiction of a woman who longs to finally express her true opinions.
Despite serving as a sudden shift in tone from “Surprise,” the third one act of the night brought shrieks of laughter to an already amused audience. “Foreplay, or The Art of The Fugue” featured countless sexual innuendos, shocking audience members who may have expected milder themes. Yet, this initial disbelief eventually faded, as the final couple of the scene, portrayed by junior Fatima Koroma and freshman Nia Zagami, entered the stage. Koroma’s character remained calm while Zagami’s exuded enthusiasm for her surroundings, creating amusing contrast.
While the next show of the evening, “Check Please,” clearly had high standards to meet, the one act maintained the consistent humor of previous performances. Although the show delved into the previously-explored theme of dating gone wrong, the varying scenes helped to keep the audience engaged. With two characters going on a date at any given time and rapidly shifting scenes, the fourth show allowed multiple actors to illustrate their talents in a limited time-frame.
By the time that the lights transitioned to the final show of the evening, the actors had explored lighthearted themes, but no trace of the more serious side of adolescence. Directed and written by junior Julianna Gross, “Off Road” addressed mental illness and abusive relationships in the longest piece of the evening. With a heart-wrenching portrayal of anxiety executed by junior Leah Packer, the audience witnessed her character face a haunting battle with acceptance of her mental illness. When the lights rose on the silent Ertzman, audience members stared at each other with an appreciation for the honesty in the piece they witnessed.
While Winter One Acts has concluded for 2018, the production managed to showcase the power of student creativity in creating a performance capable of emotionally moving an audience.