Fall plays display students’ adept acting, tainted by derogatory undertones


The school’s fall theatrical production, performed on Oct. 29, 30 and 31, was a double feature of two one-act plays: Death, by Woody Allen, and The Devil and Daniel Webster, by Stephen Vincent Benét. Directed by ESOL teacher Carla Ingram and assistant directed by English teacher Nicholas Hitchens and senior Daria Kerschenbaum, both shows featured impressive performances by cast members and adept work by crew members, but their content proved to be problematic at points.
The first show performed was Death, a modern dark comedy about a man named Kleinman. Played by senior Nikolaus Meyer, Kleinman is dragged into a manhunt for a killer. Meyer showcased his flexibility as an actor, portraying Kleinman’s confusion, fear and overall frustration at his ignorance to “the plan” that the other townspeople keep talking about. Other notable performances include those of junior Rebecca Korn, who played a star-gazing prostitute named Gina, and sophomore Robert Summers-Burger, who played an anxious, bespectacled member of the manhunt named Al. The show comes to a close with Kleinman meeting the killer, who is a hilariously psychopathic little girl played by junior Taylor Litofsky.
After a brief intermission, The Devil and Daniel Webster begins with an 1840s wedding between New Hampshire senator Jabez, played by junior Max Ramsay, and his bride, Mary, played by junior Caroline Firestone. All is well until the devil herself shows up, played by junior Hannah Bruckheim. The devil has a contract that Jabez signed 10 years ago, where he agreed to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for good fortune. It is up to renowned American attorney Daniel Webster, played by sophomore Zack Cassidy, and a jury of people from hell, to decide Jabez’s fate. Ramsay and Firestone had undeniable chemistry, and both actors display considerable skill throughout the production. Cassidy does the role of Webster justice, as he himself is a great orator, and Bruckheim’s chilling rendition of the devil demonstrated her range of theatrical talents. The jury of the dead, each member a twitching, mutilated version of a historical figure bathed in eerie red light, impressed and frightened the crowd.
While the overall experience of the fall plays was enjoyable, the fact that the theatre department paid royalties to Woody Allen, an accused child molester, tainted the experience with guilt. Additionally, in The Devil and Daniel Webster, a non-Native American student had to play Metacomet, a Native-American chief, in the jury scene, and the costume department encountered issues avoiding culturally appropriating the student’s costume. Within the historical context of the play’s 1937 publication, it would make sense that Metacomet would be a member of a jury composed of the worst people in hell, from a white American perspective. However, this anti-Native view has been rejected by the modern mindset. In light of Ingram’s intentions (stated in her director’s note) to highlight both the good and bad in America, particularly in this election cycle, it was alarming to have such derogatory views exhibited in the show without them being addressed in a manner available to the audience.


Sophia Koval

Staff Writer