by SEAN GILLEN, Oakton High School
Set amid the real-world chaos of an America simultaneously experiencing a pandemic and a sharp spike in racial tensions, Langley High School’s recent production “Long Division” is a striking and somber reminder of the deeply human nature and impact these issues have.
The show maturely examines the issues that currently plague society from the perspective of the actors involved, with individuals narrating their own experiences as monologues versus a script.
Tasked with interpreting the phrase “long division,” Langley’s ensemble coalesces to present a show as profound as it is captivating.
The practice of composing a script from collaborative improvisation and reminiscence is referred to as “devised theater” and was aptly demonstrated by the ensemble. The inclusion of personal anecdotes added a level of depth and authenticity and was an effective way to handle the series of somber issues the show sought to address.
The scene “Hurricane,” performed solely by Erin Kearns, was exemplary of the show’s intimacy and maturity. Kearns recounted how, as a third-grader, large swaths of her community were devastated by a hurricane, and how she and her family shared Thanksgiving dinner at a local community center to comfort others in a time of such hardship. Her dexterity not only as an actor but also as a writer was put on full display in an impressive contribution to the show’s thoughtful tone.
The technical department, tasked with designing and arranging the show’s visuals while still abiding by social-distancing protocols, skillfully and cleverly rose to the occasion.
The production’s impact was not lost on the audience due in large part to the technical prowess of Conard Racich and Elizabeth Tippens, the two editors who assembled the separate parts of the show. They aptly chose specific footage to mirror parts of the script, providing a polished backdrop for the ensemble’s profound observations.
Additionally, their shared ingenuity allowed for Langley to seamlessly overcome the constraints of having to film at home, adding a sense of unity and togetherness in a time of isolation.
The ensemble as a whole demonstrated wisdom beyond their years as they navigated the most grave and pertinent of topics. Uniquely personal, crisply presented and, above all, heartfelt, Langley High School’s “Long Division” is sure to both enthrall and enlighten audiences.
The Sun Gazette partners with the Critics and Awards Program (CAPPIES) to present student-written reviews of local high school theater productions.
For more on the initiative, see the Web site at www.cappies.com/nca/.