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Thomas Edison High School The Curious Savage

By • May 2nd, 2010 • Category: Cappies

Erma Bombeck once said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” This weekend, Thomas Edison High School crossed this line with their witty yet poignant production of The Curious Savage.

First produced in 1950, The Curious Savage is one of the early comedies of playwright and screenwriter John Patrick. In the clever comedy, a wealthy widow (Emily Wolfteich as Mrs. Ethel P. Savage) is placed in a mental institution by her own children after deciding to donate the entirety of her late husband’s money to charity. She befriends her fellow patients – a motley but lovable bunch – and together they attempt to outwit her three scheming children.

Wolfteich shone as the witty and slightly eccentric Ethel Savage. Despite a youthful appearance, she brought maturity and wit to the older character. “Man is, by nature, optimistic,” she quipped. “Otherwise, he’d eat his own young!” Wolfteich sarcastically delivered some of the most hilarious lines of the play, but also connected well enough with the other characters to create the show’s most poignant moments.

Sophia Sperling’s delightfully quirky Fairy May was a constant source of amusement. She remained completely dedicated to her zany character, no matter how ridiculous the situation. Sperling was joined by a plethora of equally hilarious characters, from violin-playing, night-fighting Hannibal (Paul Budge) to the selectively mute Mrs. Paddy (Anna Krause), who “gave up conversation for life and electricity for Lent.”

The show’s various ensembles worked well together, clearly illustrating their various relationships. Unfortunately, the play’s low-key comedy meant that several actors did not maintain high energy levels throughout the performance. This lack of energy, in addition to occasionally poor articulation, sometimes made it difficult to hear actors, despite hanging microphones.

From the crown molding to the unevenly worn carpet, the set (Will Glad) was detailed and well-constructed, and the slamming door allowed for increased comedic timing of entrances and exits. Jocelyn Griser’s lighting cues were simple yet effective, particularly during the show’s penultimate scene as a single spotlight shone on Mrs. Savage’s beloved teddy bear.

Despite an occasional lack of energy, Thomas Edison High School presented a very solid rendition of a classic comedy.

Elisabeth Bloxam of Westfield High School.

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