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Falls Church High School No Crime Like the Present

By • May 3rd, 2012 • Category: Cappies

There was a time in American history when the big screen was dominated by film noir. Movie theaters throughout the country were graced by grainy tough guys and hard-boiled lawmen, who smoked cigarettes and spouted internal monologues of their cynicism and theories of justice on black and white screens. Falls Church High School’s production of No Crime Like the Present turned these traditions upside-down.

The show, written by Bill Gleason, is a farce that dances on top of the conventions of film noir. Private Investigator Mavis Davis is called to work, after a well-known and popular news anchor dies on the air. Mavis collects clues and meets a colorful cast of characters on her journey for the truth, which ends in a ridiculous but hilarious plot twist.

Overall, the cast of 17 colorful caricatures was able to mesh well into the reality of the universe they created. Though there were some character choices that seemed either a little underdeveloped or a little too over the top, the cast delivered substantial energy in the show allowing for funny moments for which the audience was very receptive.

Betsy Ryan as Mavis Davis was able to manage the tough guy attitude that the show was parodying. She delivered considerable amounts of dialogue without any hiccups or stumbles, while maintaining a very detective “I’ve-seen-it-all” personality. Brennan Jones gave a strong performance as news anchor Luther Preston. His performance and delivery of lines throughout the show displayed great confidence and charisma. He was able to incorporate the golden-toned vocals and chest-out, back-straight physicality of a news anchor while sporting his ever-present smile.

Zack Ascensio’s Stan Van was wonderfully funny as the archetypal “tragic artist.” His energy was lively and his comic timing was on target, helping him create some moments of great fun when his scenes came. Matt Nordan’s Mayor Everett Nelson had equally strong comic timing, smoothly saying exactly what a crooked politician would say: the wrong thing. His performance allowed for some comic highs, as was evident from the laughter of the audience. Melanie Reuter was also adept in her humorously portrayal the news “diva” Cassandra Dumont with enough sass and attitude to create a personality the viewers would love to hate.

The technical side of the show was quite well done. Set pieces were very sturdy, enough for the cast members to jump all over them in complete safety, yet were simple enough to allow quick, easy transitions for the running crew. One set piece that stood out was the main news desk. It was built well enough to conceal two actors completely from the audience for the climactic un-masking scene.

In a farcical and ridiculous adventure in the quest for truth and justice, Falls Church High School’s production of No Crime Like the Present slapped a smile over the serious faces of every one of those old-timey detectives.

by Tyler Cramer of Freedom 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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