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Every season a group of High School students participate in STC’s Teen Critic program. These students attend the productions, participate in workshops and craft critical reviews reflecting their unique perspectives on the performances. Fourteen young critics are participating in this year’s program and below are excerpts from their reviews.
Learn more about the Teen Critic program.
Adam Winchenbach, 11th grade, Richard Montgomery High School, MD
One would not expect such an irreverent comedy as The Panties, The Partner, and The Profit to be as smart as it is. What the show promises before the curtain opens, laugh out loud moments and witty hilarity, it delivers in full form. But, the show expands on this promise and creates a work of art that provides a complex analysis into the state of our society. Their critique of the throwaway culture that America lives in is expressed through a narrative following one unextraordinary family and many equally unextraordinary characters. The show gives an in depth a relevant look at gripping social problems involving how we as humans interact with one another. The way that it does this is by taking a look at a series of dysfunctional relationships between characters. By the end of the production, these interconnected characters and relationships reach an explosive climax at the beginning of the biblical end of the world.
Hana O’Looney, 9th grade, Richard Montgomery High School, MD
A trio of half-hour plays, which Ives adapted from German playwright Carl Sternheim, follows three generations of the Mask family through Boston, Wall Street, and Malibu. The first play, The Panties, follows the frustrated Louise Mask (Kimberly Gilbert) as she has to deal with the commotion of men flinging themselves at her after her panties fall down at an Independence Day parade.
Mary-Kate Wilson, 11th grade, Washington Latin Public Charter, DC
The Mask family’s first generation is shown in The Panties. It was a slow start to get used to the thick Boston accents and 1950s schtick, but the characters were vibrant, the witty comedy left me chuckling, and the quick pace kept me hooked until the final beat. I was sad to see this generation go, but eagerly awaited the next installment.
Jocie Mintz, 10th grade, Walter Whitman High School, MD
The second one-act, like its lacquered set, is the most polished of the three. Set in the late ‘80’s, it follows Christian Mask, son of Louise and Joe, and his quest to become a partner at his…finance firm? Investment bank? His exact workspace is unclear, but his aspirations aren’t, hence the title The Partner. As Christian, Kevin Isola gives an incredibly sharp and strong performance, never losing energy.
Lauren Xu, 11th grade, BASIS DC, DC
As the acts transition, the actors skillfully adapt to each new role. The use of the same actors during different time periods contributes to the sense of the lasting relevance of Ives’ message. Similarly, the use of the same jokes (such as the insistence that Louise didn’t lose her panties, but that they fell down, and discussion about a sea serpent) in the different acts also adds to this continuity.
Maggie Wang, 12th grade, National Cathedral School, DC
In portraying everything from Boston accents to the end of the world, the actors are precise and vivid. Especially commendable are Kimberly Gilbert as Louise Mask in all three acts, Tony Roach as Jock Revere in The Panties, Julia Coffey as Sybil Rittenhouse in The Partner, and Kevin Isola as Rabbi Mandelshtam in The Profit.
Olivia Roark, 10th grade, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, MD
The acting and the fluidity with which the actors, especially Julia Coffey, Kevin Isola and Turna Mete, switched in and out of roles from one act to another was so convincing that I wasn’t always sure who each actor was playing from act to act. Line delivery was quick, and that, combined with the frequent opening and closing of doors as people walked on and off of the set created a fast paced environment onstage that enhanced the play’s comedic atmosphere. Scenic designer Alexander Dodge’s sets, which spun in the transitions between sections of the play, seemed to turn time, shifting forwards as each new part started. The newspaper clipping style border that framed the stage provided context that made the characters on stage and their humor seem somehow both timeless and time-full, they stood on their own.
Max Tankersley, 12th grade, Washington-Lee High School, VA
The biggest risk a director takes when triple casting a show is being unclear about who each actor is playing at any given moment. Distinct costuming is often the key to clear differentiation, and Frank Labovitz’s design is no exception. Strong commitment to period clothing in the 50’s and 80’s accentuates the script’s anachronistic references to modern day issues. The highlight came in the costumes for The Profit, which were a refreshing and colorful take on fashion in the future from Louise’s bright green dress to the Rabbi’s waterproof yarmulke to Ursula’s potato sack. Their eye-catching clothing was jarring after watching the historically accurate, if somewhat mundane suits and dresses of the first two plays, which fit the director’s intention of intensifying attention on the consequences lying in the near future.
Emma Shacochis, 12th grade, Oakton High School, VA
The show’s most compelling aspect is its dedication to time periods through style and dialogue. Through the adept work of scenic designer Alexander Dodge, the use of a turntable allows each scene to sport a realistic, precisely furnished set (from a dingy apartment, high-ranking office, and spacious Malibu beach house). Period-specific outfits from costume designer Frank Labovitz aid in making the trio of characters played by each of the six actors plays distinguishable from one another.
Anna Brosowsky, 10th grade, DC International School, DC
The repetition of underwear, broken clocks, poetry, giant sea snakes, infidelity, and papayas connected each character’s individual struggles in a sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle way. Though a comedy, there were times when the actions on stage were bitter from the Mask family’s seemingly fruitless search for satisfaction in life and their inability to escape the patterns of the past, yet, the resolution of the play left the sweet taste of papaya in my mouth and in the mouth of a “heroic” middle class family who could finally, after a giant sea snake appeared, enjoy it.