Senior One Acts: A Review


Theresa Cullen

The “Train of Thought” cast bows at the end of their show. This play was written by senior Jack Young, as part of the one act series for the International Thespian Society competition. “Train of Thought” and “Time after Time” were both written by seniors, paying homage to their theater experiences at HB, and a part of their final goodbye.

Theresa Cullen, Op-Ed Editor

Sci-fi fantasy music and creative set designs filled the HBHS auditorium for the Senior One Acts at HB May 6th and 7th. Recently, Jack Young and Mia Karlsson worked together with Mr. Portu and the theater department to write and direct their own shows. These seniors partnered up with actors and stage staff of all grade levels to put on fantastic performances for the HBHS community that left each audience member enriched and with a powerful message. 


Opening with the line “I’m going to my uncle’s funeral” being meet with sickening cheerfulness by a train passenger, Young’s play Train of Thought follows a gloomy character, played by Lena Donavan, who finds themselves surrounded by a cast of people too caught up in their own lives to realize the true meaning (and irony) behind their actions. Donavan’s character breaks the third wall as they look in at these people’s lives from the audience’s perspective. Donavan delivers a stellar performance with excellent comedic timing as they travel throughout the train cars offering timely judgments on each character. One particularly memorable moment occurs when Molly Peter’s character performs a full on parody to “If I Were a Rich Man,” singing “If I Was A Chairman” with her entourage, waiting with bated breath for a positive review only to be meet with Donavan’s disbelief that the group does not see the clear copyright issues. The show continues, crossing paths with a stressed out mom, a detective straight out of Clue, and troublesome children. 


The show is not all humor, however. In fact, the takeaway of the show strikes emotional chords for all, especially those entering new phases of life, as Donavan delivers one last line “I suppose if there’s anything these people need in their lives, it’s a little bit of understanding beyond their one track minds. Human nature may be generally revolting but, maybe human interaction can be beautiful in a way… People aren’t stupid, not all of them at least.” This poignant message argues that we should find humor in the ridiculousness of the outside world, but not get so caught up in being an observer that we don’t get to enjoy the ridiculousness for ourselves. Young’s play expertly juxtaposes two elements that are not usually expressed in tandem, joy and dripping sarcasm and sets Young up as someone to look out for in the future. 


Karlsson’s play, Time After Time, however, takes up a different vibe. Karlsson combines elements of physics, time travel, comedy, and friendship to create a telling story of the passage of time and human connection. Karlsson’s play stands out as witty as scientific knowledge is smoothly incorporated into the dialogue around time and space travel, drawing audience’s further into the characters’ realities on future space colonies. However, Time After Time truly centers around the connection between characters as Kathryn Hersey’s character, Caroline,  makes friends with an unlikely duo as she continues on her journey to return home to her friends Ethan and Kate (played by Katherin Jokinen and Emma DiGennaro). Hersey’s performance, accompanied by the expert mechanical humor of Emily Fox and the enticing partially removed-but-you-still-want-to-be-friends attitude of Oli Toner’s character, Isabella, shows the audience how friendship can be formed in the most unlikely of places. In fact, the character’s devotion to one another leaves viewers touched. This is especially true as Fox and Toner’s characters secretly make an extreme sacrifice to help their new friend despite the potential consequences.


Additionally, Karlsson’s play doesn’t follow the typical time travel formula. Rather, it keeps viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the performance. When you believe that you’ve figured out all of the mysteries of this story, keep guessing, as more layers will unfold themselves just in time for the final dim of the lights. The dynamic combination of these surprising twists with the both comforting and vital message of friendship makes Time After Time stand out as a powerful performance for adolescent and adult audiences alike. Karlsson’s work serves as a perfect senior goodbye as it takes the audience on a personalized passage through (and between!) time, reflecting on what is truly important in life. Karlsson isolates herself as a professional who connects with all types of audience members, leaving them touched by the characters, and walking out of the theater with a newfound appreciation for what they have.  Time After Time is a powerful piece and will hopefully be performed again by the HBHS community. 


The technology, stage design, and choreography of these performances did not go unnoticed. For both plays the lighting fit the mood and tone of the performances, often fulfilling symbolic meanings and enhancing the viewing experience. Additionally, the performances are accompanied by excellent scores. Time After Time , particularly, is backed by sci-fi music that transports the viewer into the character’s world and adds a layer of professionalism that is hard to find in high school productions. The stage design also complements both play’s personalities. The simplistic train background and seat set up in Young’s play, for example, allows the audience to focus on the characters. This not only aligns with Donavan’s character’s initial stationary view on life that contrasts with the outside world, but perfectly meshes with the overall emphasis on individual characters as everyone moves freely and takes up space. The element that stands out the most in both plays, however, is the dynamic movement of the actors around the theater and on stage. In Young’s play the characters break out into a food fight across the stage that feels natural and childlike, and the musical number’s choreography is perfectly executed to match the character’s over the top enthusiasm.  Time After Time employs space as narrative advice, with people from the past appearing off to the side, often cast in red. Additionally, the actors’ navigation around the auditorium engages the audience and makes it feel as though viewers are within the story. 


Whether karate chopping or lazily strumming a guitar, in both performances the actors portray their characters with ease. It is clear that every character feels confident in who they are, and the cast easily switches between different personalities. Additionally, the actors expertly manipulate their body language as a storytelling device. This appears through Hersey and Donavan’s posture in Young’s play as they play a former movie star and a reserved passenger respectively. In Karlsson’s play Jokinen takes up the movements of a supportive and laid back friend with ease, filling up the space and communicating through smaller gestures how much her character cares for his friend. Specific movements are also used as the security guard (also played by DiGennaro) believably falls unconscious through Fox’s precise robotic arm movements, and Toner walks with a sense of irreproachable confidence. 


These performance’s stand out as some of the best to grace the stage HBHS. Hopefully serving as the beginning of student written or lead performances becoming commonplace at HB. It’s imperative to note that without the support of the tech team, stage managers, and crew as a whole, these performances could not have proceeded. It is thanks to their fantastic work that all of these elements came together to make the memorable performances audiences experienced this month. The dedication and creativity of the seniors will inspire others to hopefully share their own stories as well, as they set a high standard for inclusive and meaningful high school performances. Senior One Acts were truly special performances and achieved the elusive standard many artists strive to accomplish as both Train of Thought and  Time After Time were captivating and impactful. These plays left audience’s feeling fulfilled and reflecting on their own lives, a true measure of fantastic theater. The 2021-22 theater department can be seen in action for a final time during June 3d and 4th for Pride and Prejudice at HBHS. Tickets can be bought online, or at the door. Raffle tickets and concessions will be available in the lobby.