By Ivy Ridenhour, Freedom High School
School can be a lot, whether it’s class, going to detention or making a play, there’s so much going on. Everyone’s got their own problems and gets involved in other people’s problems. Riverside High School’s production of Virtual School Problems shows us this and shows us that making things virtual only makes them more messy, confusing, and entertaining.
Virtual School Problems is a show made of two student written pieces. “Detention” was written by Theatre I students: Beckett Rice, Arjun Dawar, Andrienne Papalabrakopoulos, and Grace Taylor. It portrayed a detention room full of drama and gossip. “End This Meet” was written by Theatre IV students: Aenea Bayliss, and Rachel Bunch. It told the tale of a group of students preparing a play for class that’s due later that night.
Both shows had well written characters with a variety of fun personalities and intriguing plots. The writing in “End this Meet” was particularly fun with asides and fourth wall breaks that kept the audience on the edge of their seats watching out for the next cool moment.
Both of these shows were ensemble pieces, and with so many actors it can be tricky to identify recognizable characters. With no clear lead it’s less clear where the audience should focus, and it can be easy to miss out on characters. However, well done character relationships can help to “pin” characters and allow the audience to see the full range of personality.
In “Detention”, one such relationship was the dynamic between Madison and Travis, played by Isabelle Simond and Arjun Dawar. Both were bold and clear characters on their own, but together they made a popular duo with just enough exaggeration to be entertaining but seem real.
In “End This Meet”, Caitlin Pancia played Alicia, a girl with a little too much confidence. Arzoris Perez Rodriquez played Candice, a distracted teen. Their performances were interesting enough by themselves, but together they created an interesting rivalry that added a lot to the show.
One character that really stood out on their own was Mr. Roberts, played by Arman Jaiswal. Mr. Roberts was a teacher in “Detention” who kept an eye on the students, or at least he was supposed to. Instead, he spent the time meditating and dancing; his antics plus his attitude made him a standout character from his very first line.
All in all, Riverside High School’s Virtual School Problems was a show relatable to anyone who has dealt with group projects, high school drama, and, of course, virtual school.
[This review of the April 30performance at Riverside High School is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now andThe Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]