Black Box 2019 Review

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Black Box 2019 Review

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I came to this year’s Black Box performance with high expectations. I was blown away by last year’s, and I wasn’t even sitting on the stage. The performances last Friday certainly didn’t disappoint.

Black Box is a series of one-act plays directed by students, accompanied by student-performed songs in between acts, called filler acts. The audience is seated on risers, forming a box around the stage. This is a long-standing tradition in the Boulder High Theater department, and it is known for being quite impressive.

This year’s Black Box consisted of three plays and three songs. The first piece was “I’ve Decided to Marry You” from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, performed by seniors Marcus Schaller, Risa Jones and Kira Williams. The song was funny and dramatic, presenting a scene where a man is stuck between his two love interests, one of whom has just asked for his hand in marriage. The piece displayed the actors’ impressive singing ability as well as their flair for the dramatic in this playful musical number.

The first one-act play was Check Please, written by Jonathan Rand and directed by senior Amina Gilbert. The audience looked on as two young people fruitlessly tried their hand at dating and eventually found each other. Each wacky date to walk onto the stage, whether it be a gay actor “trying to play the straight part,” a woman screaming about the Bears game, or a man in a burlap sack, drew laughs from the crowd. My personal favorite moment from the scene was when one of the two main characters, played by senior Gwen Egan, threw a glass of water on an especially rude match. Overall, the play was funny, clever, and a nice light start to the evening.

Senior Lucy Braymiller followed up this act with her performance of “Stupid with Love” from Mean Girls. She did a fantastic job embodying her character, squealing about the boy she had a crush on. She also impressed the audience with her ability to hit all the notes while running around and acting out her lyrics.

The next one-act was Controlling Interest by Wayne S. Rawley, directed by Lael Burgess. The audience was brought into a secret meeting amongst some young boys who had just decided to maybe stop hating girls. At first, the boys are unsure about the radical idea. One, in particular, kept insisting that he was very, very uncomfortable with the whole thing. Despite some protest, the boys’ leader decided to invite a few girl representatives to discuss the proposition. The two little ladies came prancing in, elbows linked, with a sparkly contract for the boys to sign. The conditions were simple—they would simply take up all the boys’ thoughts and nine out of ten of their dreams. The boys think it’s a little crazy at first, but then the girls remember to mention that they might get to see them without their shirts on. This seals the deal and they go on their merry way. This short was incredibly funny and clever, playing off of the traditional stereotypes for young girls and boys, as well as the common presumptions about grown men. A favorite touch of mine was one of the boys holding a football helmet over his pants after hearing about the prospect of shirtless girls. Certainly playful and definitely enjoyable, this short had the whole crowd laughing.

After this play, senior Amina Gilbert took the stage and sang “Diva’s Lament (What Ever Happened to My Part?)” from Spamalot. The song was modified to fit this year’s Black Box performance and commented on the fact that Gilbert, being a director, hadn’t been cast for a role in one of the plays. Both funny and beautifully performed, the song was a nice continuation of the playful tone of the prior performance. 

The last one-act, A Children’s Story by James Clavell, was directed by senior Kira Williams. The plotline was unexpected and bold. Set in an American elementary school after the defeat of the United States in the Cold War, the play goes through the effective indoctrination of children to Communist ideals. The old teacher is replaced with a young Russian woman who slowly convinces the children to abandon their American values—role call, the pledge, and even religion. The class works together to rip up an American flag because they “all want a little piece of its luck,” and later decides that God isn’t real because none of their prayers ever come true. Full of intense symbols and a brutal sense of realism, this play completely changed the tone of the night. Senior Kirby Meschke, playing the Soviet teacher, did an incredible job of maintaining the intensity and fear in the room. With an eerily pleasant and honest facade, she succeeds in conquering her classroom. Despite its lack of humor, this play was my favorite due to its power to take over the audience and engage deeply in a scary hypothetical. 

This year’s Black Box performances were thoroughly enjoyable and impressive, and I loved going to see them with my friends. If you have another year at Boulder High, please give them a try next year—they won’t disappoint! Our school is home to so many talented actors, actresses, and vocalists, and this performance helps to showcase just how amazing they are!