by SOPHIA COULOPOULOS, Riverside High School
Some stories simply seem too abstract to be imagined by the human mind.
A journey of self-reflection between a couple while simultaneously being hunted by several massive man-eating pianos with no help in sight – who could possibly have imagined this concept?
Well, Lex Garcia of H-B Woodlawn created this preposterous brainchild and turned it into a captivating and entertaining radio-show performance.
The student-written and -directed production was filled with brilliantly executed decision-making and succeeded in balancing humor with horror in a truly preposterous and entertaining storyline.
Garcia’s script writing was the foundation of the effectiveness and entertainment value of “The Keys.” His decision to write his story around two strong and distinctive characters allowed the disconnection and tensions between them throughout the plot to grow, as Kathy’s sassy and blunt nature directly clashed with Jeff’s defensive nature. Further, the clashes of the couple were emphasized and heightened in the frightful and anxiety-ridden story they navigated.
In addition, the variety in the pacing and ordering of the script highlighted the contrast of humor versus horror. The Narrator served an important role in gauging the intensity of horror or humor in each section of the production.
Most impressively, the plot perfectly balanced the contrasting humor and horror. The most notable example of this was the ending, where Jeff finally reached the fire alarm and succeeded in alerting authorities about the disastrous situation at hand, which was directly followed by a pun referencing “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. Every moment of contrast was perfectly balanced and added to the comedic value of the production.
Of course, Garcia’s script would not be effective if it was not executed by actors who could capture the nature of his conflicting characters.
Philip Juras and Charlotte Moulton perfectly portrayed not only the personalities of their individual characters, but also the relationship between them. Their chemistry continued to build as the plot progressed, as their bickering grew in intensity.
Whether they argued about rumors of their relationship or the claims of love, their frustration with each other manifested, and the growing tension between their characters could be felt stronger in every passing minute.
In addition, Mirek Jungr’s portrayal of the Narrator was foundational in the captivating nature of the entire production. His consistent vocal variation and pacing was enchanting, as his delivery made every sentence of description vividly imaginable.
In combination with Jungr’s performance, the innovative use of sound effects built upon the descriptive writing to create an incredibly detailed imagining of the story in the mind.
The water-fountain noises, opening of a locker, or smashing of a piano added emphasis when each action occurred in the narration, and in turn allowed a clearer mental image of the progression of action in the plot. Sound engineer Josue Rocha created many of these sound effects by hand.
The viewing of H-B Woodlawn’s “The Keys” was a truly impressive experience. Even as an audio performance, each aspect of the production thrived without the presence of a visual aspect at all.
The production was a prime showcase of student abilities and talents, as essentially the entire production was student-created. Whether it be acting, scriptwriting or editing, every aspect of this production was spectacularly impressive for the students of H-B Woodlawn.
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/.