Westfield High School Flowers for AlgernonBy Cappies • Feb 21st, 2013 • Category: Cappies
Through the darkness of splattered ink blots come the images of a man and a mouse. Tying them together is the confusion of life and the power simple gifts like flowers can bring. Westfield High School’s powerful production of Flowers for Algernon was performed with strength this past Saturday.
Based on the 1966 novel by Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon was adapted into an award-winning movie in 1968 and came to the stage in 1969 as a play written by David Rogers. The show follows the story of Charlie Gordon; a mentally handicapped man who believes there is kindness in everyone and looks for opportunities to learn more. When Charlie finds his way into a research study centered on increasing intelligence he is excited about the prospect of becoming smarter, but as his intelligence increases Charlie begins to open the wounds of childhood memories and realizes that more intelligence does not bring about the security and happiness that he thought it would. When Charlie faces the possibility that the results of his operation may not be permanent he finds solace in a lab mouse named Algernon and searches for answers in his small companion.
Mitchell Buckley gave a riveting performance as Charlie Gordon. With an excellent sense of timing and stage presence, Buckley brought the complex character to life onstage delivering powerful monologues with great intensity. Buckley also created strong relationships with his scene partners to display Charlie’s thoughts and feelings about each character he was interacting with. As Charlie’s teacher and eventual love interest Alice Kinnian, Madeleine Bloxam showed a true understanding of her character and severed as a good foil to the characters who were more interested in Charlie’s brain than in his feelings.
Brandon Sanchez, Alex Mann, and Julian Sanchez gave outstanding performances as the team of doctors who are in charge of the experiment Charlie participates in. Mann was able to portray the older character Dr. Strauss with ease. Brandon Sanchez had excellent stage presence and both he and Mann were able to display their character’s frustration over the failings of their experiment. Julian Sanchez stood opposite Mann and Sanchez in that his character felt more remorse for Charlie and displayed superb character development as the show progressed. Both Sarah Schweit and Maggie Mitchell gave strong performances as Charlie’s Mother and sister Norma respectively. Schweit and Mitchell played the incredibly complex characters with fantastic dynamics and understanding.
Despite some technical hiccups the show’s technical elements were fitting and progressed throughout the show wonderfully. Lighting set the mood of each scene and the props were all time appropriate for the 1960s where the show was set. Costumes and make-up were also time appropriate and had excellent color schemes for each character. The show had many set transitions and Westfield’s stage crew handled all of them quickly and efficiently. The entire show was underscored with music composed by Alex Mann and Joe Dremiecki and often set the tone for the scenes.
While there are often more questions than answers when it comes to the human mind, Westfield’s show made a powerful statement on the importance of humanity, and through excellent performances the message of acceptance was clearly stated.
by Emily Kelly of Robert E. Lee High School
Photos by Charlie Gunn
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