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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Hayfield Secondary School The Twilight of the Golds

By • May 4th, 2009 • Category: Cappies

John Tolins begins his very controversial play The Twilight of the Golds with one of its main characters, David Gold, saying that he is “one of those people who takes people to the Opera against their will.” And if this play is any indication, he is. Tolins’ tale of genetics, family relations, and the consequences thereof is connected with Richard Wagner’s four-part opera “Der Ring des Nibelungen” in both its aria-like monologues delivered directly to the audience and its conflict between the traditions of old and changes now manifesting themselves.

The Twilight of the Golds (whose title even comes from the last piece of Wagner’s work, The Twilight of the Gods), portrays the sometimes far-fetched life of a Jewish family in New York City. Suzanne (Kate Drakeley) and her husband Rob (Michael Bayerle) are celebrating their third anniversary with Suzanne’s parents, Walter and Phyllis Gold (Solomon Menkerios and Sarah Congress), and her gay brother David (Conler Mandt) when Suzanne reveals she is going to have a baby. At first the whole family is ecstatic, but controversy erupts when Rob’s genetic research company Oxy performs some tests on the baby which reveal that it is pre-disposed to becoming homosexual. Suzanne is caught between the brother she loves and the emotional decision she must make regarding whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

The five high-school students who took on the very adult roles in the script were able to endow each of them with realistic attributes that forged a strong connection with the audience. This connection allowed the less-believable portions of the script to be forgotten and the deep emotional conflicts to be savored.

In the role of David, Conler Mandt was able to create a very complex character persuasively likeable and deeply divided. His moments of narration, much like the great operas the character speaks of, hummed with the variation between hilarious zingers and introspective thought. His relationship with Kate Drakeley’s Suzanne was both quirky and incredibly believable. Sarah Congress and Solomon Menkerios, as Walter and Suzanne, embodied both the stereotypes of Jewish parents and every parent’s love for their children.

The technical elements of the show brought the operatic aspects of the script into full view. The pieces of Wagner’s opera placed in David’s monologues gave a great dramatic feel, but sometimes overpowered the dialogue. The stage crew at Hayfield was able to quickly and accurately change between two complex sets with ease.

Hayfield Secondary School’s Production of The Twilight of the Golds was not only a poignant piece of well-performed theater, but also a highly artistic expression of conflicts that occur in our own lives. The clashes between the old and the new, the scientific and the artistic, the pragmatic and the creative were all among those portrayed with courage, deep understanding, and generosity.

Twilight of the Golds will also be performed this weekend, May 8 and 9 at 7:30PM. Don’t miss it.

by Kevin Place of Thomas Jefferson High School

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is a program which was founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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