By Sam Kaynor of Thomas A. Edison High School
One of the most sorrowful events in the history of the world, the sinking of the Titanic, is synonymous with many words: tragedy, disaster, and catastrophe to name a few. However, after Broad Run High School’s performance of Brant Powell’s “That Sinking Feeling: The Delectable Tale of Richard Parker,” other words come to mind, chief among them being comedy, absurdity, and poeticism.
This story followed the aftermath of the Titanic’s fateful collision with an iceberg in April of 1912. The show first introduced violinists on the boat discussing the state of affairs, but quickly shifted to follow a group of individuals in a lifeboat discussing their situation and getting into petty squabbles. From an energetic actress to a smooth Russian gentleman to a dignified, albeit outspoken, lady, a variety of passengers discussed the predicament they now all faced. As tensions slowly rose, a man was saved from the water, some passengers lashed out, some perished, and absurdity came to the forefront.
The actors and actresses of the show all added an incredible amount to the atmosphere, and their chemistry with one another helped to elevate the show. One great standout was Victor Volkov (played by Mike Spage), whose consistent Russian accent and well-timed comedic relief kept the show light and helped audience members to stay focused and engaged in the action. His interactions with the other characters brought out many memorable comedic moments of the show. Another incredible performance was shown by Dorothy Gibson (played by Rachael McNutt). Her ambitious actress character was amplified immensely by her powerful delivery, great body movement, and stellar expressions. Her performance alone was enough to thicken the atmosphere of some scenes to the point where audience members could practically taste the tragedy through their computer screens. Of course, the initial sense of atmosphere was largely owed to John “Jock” Hume (Maggie Kapczynski) and the other violinists. Jock’s character presented a different view of the events and a refreshingly unique style that kept the violinists scenes at the beginning and end of the show from being too sullen. Without a doubt, the best part of the acting talent of the show was the chemistry between every character and their dedication to their roles creating an ambience that gave the show a deeper meaning.
The technical elements of Broad Run’s performance must not be ignored. Every scene was filmed individually and composited together through editing, which seemed impressive before watching the show. However, the smoothness of every scene and the clean jump cuts made the whole thing seem professional and more like an in-person experience. The jump cuts in particular gave the sense of turning to look at other actors in the middle of a scene, a feeling that added greatly to the realism of the show. The work of editors Theo Mastio, Jannah Fawzy, Nicholas Kaplan, Rachael McNutt, and Natalie Saint-Rossy should be applauded and respected. Additionally, the costumes felt period-appropriate, helped to characterize the passengers, and allowed audience members to easily differentiate between characters at a glance. Winky Nguyen, Natalie Saint-Rossy, Kermena Sameul, and Christina Russell did an incredible job, especially considering all of the difficulties of remote filming from a variety
of locations. Every technical element added to the show in a different way and made it feel more complete.
This show was truly special. Every aspect was good on its own, but in tandem with one another, they created something special. Broad Run’s performance felt like true Poe-try brought to life.
[This review of the April 17 performance at Broad Run High School is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now and The Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]