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H-B Woodlawn Remembering Sarah Jane

By • Mar 9th, 2010 • Category: Cappies

Abuse, suicide, murder, and neglect: these are dark and difficult themes for high schoolers to portray, but H-B Woodlawn proved that it is more than possible in their affecting student written and directed drama, Remembering Sarah Jane.

The story begins in the prison cell of Jeff, a teenager who is on trial for murder. He begins to tell the story of his life and the events that led to the murder to his attorney through several flashbacks. His sister, who committed suicide after years of abuse by their adopted father, appears again and again in the prison and in Jeff’s flashbacks, unseen by any of the other characters but very much present to Jeff. Beginning as a snide and teasing sister, she transforms into a monster of torment for Jeff, who blames himself for not protecting her from their father. His survivor’s guilt transforms him from a hurt but kind boy into a violent, abusive young man who finally allows her memory to ruin his life as he gives in to anger and fights with a knife resulting in the death of a young boy.

The entire show was riveting from beginning to end. Olivia Myers created a story which although it seemed to have an overdose of tragedy, was powerful and suspenseful. She built the tension in the murder scene expertly and had the audience on the edge of their seats waiting to see who would be killed. As director, Olivia showed maturity and insight remarkable for a high school director. Her blocking was especially well thought out in the fight and prison scenes.

Patrick Stearman took the intricate character of Jeff and brought remarkable passion and commitment to his tortured, angry character. Not only did he never lose character, but he also made every physical movement from fighting to throwing up intense and believable.

Hope, played by Lydia Fisher-Laskey had a wonderful grasp on her sweet, motherly character but also brought the realistic side of Hope’s frustrations and tragedies to life. Her scenes with her mentally retarded little brother, Henry (Mick Sloan) were sweet and believable. Mick Sloan tackled the difficult task of playing a little boy with mental retardation with sensitivity, endearing him to the audience and making his death all the more tragic.

The continuity of the show was maintained by the supporting actors whose committed characters brought energy and drive to the show. Keeka Grant, as Sarah Jane, brought her very complex and ultimately evil character to life, making the audience cringe every time she reentered the stage to torment Jeff. Another memorable character was Jeff’s insecure, weak friend Nick (Jack Crawford-Brown) who redeemed himself at the end of the play, striking the only hopeful chord at the bleak ending. Jack Crawford-Brown kept his humor and mumbling voice according to character but was always understandable throughout the play.

The lighting (Calvin McPhail-Snyder) was effective in creating moods of suspense and anxiety in the prison scenes and lighter happier moods in some of the flashbacks. Stage Crew (Matthew Welborn) moved the minimal props quickly and were not very noticeable.

H-B Woodlawn took a momentously difficult story and brought it to life realistically and professionally.

by Anna Smith of Seton School

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