Langley High School
At the hour of midnight, the Titanic began its fateful sinking, terror and panic gripped the passengers on board. As the ship slipped further below the waves into the frigid ocean, one note rang true: even amidst the chaos, the band played on. Broad Run High School's production of "That Sinking Feeling: The Case of the Invisible Body" mirrored the sinking of the Titanic in just the same way; amidst absurdity, turmoil, and murder accusations, the band played on. The production, written by Brant Powell and co-directed by Theo Mastio, placed the audience in a lifeboat with six Titanic passengers to observe their antics as they attempted to escape the sinking ship.
Despite the constraints that in-person theatre poses during this time, the cast did a stellar job of maintaining a consistent energy throughout the whole show. The chemistry between the cast was exceptional, especially given that they were not physically together while filming their scenes. The violinists (Kyleigh Loy, Gabriel Saines, and Maggie Kapczynski) set the tone for the rest of the show with a nice balance of solemn resolve and Saines' "fun fact" quips. Sarah Jakubowski's portrayal of the ditzy Southern belle Claire Ingram was remarkable; her antics, though annoying those in the lifeboat with her, were a welcome comedic break for the audience. Tristan Fishel as Jaques Frutrelle brought the best of both worlds to his character. With his steeled talk of murder punctuated by his drunken tomfoolery, Fishel toed the line between comedy and tragedy perfectly. Kaitlyn Kirkpatrick shone as the mime Tabitha Buttons. While working around the confines of having no actual dialogue, Kirkpatrick artfully demonstrated that actions do, in fact, speak louder than words.
The technical elements of "That Sinking Feeling" were absolutely remarkable, and truly tied the show together. The editing of the show, done by Theo Mastio, Jannah Fawzy, Nicholas Kaplan, Rachael McNutt, and Natalie Saint-Rossy was masterful. From splicing each individual line together, to making it appear as though the characters were standing right next to each other, the editors made the show feel cohesive, and truly enhanced the production. The faint but ever-present sounds of violins in the background was an impressive detail, especially as the tunes changed slightly to reflect the tone of the scene. The props (curated by Jannah Fawzy and Erika Abrillo) were true to the period and added to the tension and humor of the scenes, as the characters pulled weapons on each other and Jaques continually drank from his wine bottle. The costumes crew (Winky Nguyen, Natalie Saint-Rossy, Kermena Sameul, and Christina Russell) ensured that the costumes were not only true to the period, but also wonderfully accented each character, whether it be Claire Ingram's baby pink dress as a reflection of her ditzy innocence, or Vivian's sleek black gown and opulent jewelry, indicative of her lust for wealth and venomous nature. In a virtual format, the technical elements helped the production to rise to a whole new level of realism and made for a pleasant at-home viewing experience.
Throughout the tumultuous and tragic sinking of the Titanic, the band played on through the chaos, so as to calm the passengers. This is not unlike the adaptation of theatre throughout the Coronavirus pandemic; in times of tragedy and hardship, the arts bring us together and provide a welcome distraction from the situation around us. Just like the sinking of the Titanic, Broad Run High School's "That Sinking Feeling: The Case of the Invisible Body" will go down in history as an incredible virtual production.
Thomas Wootton High School
Although the Titanic may have sunk, Broad Run High School's theatre department rose to the occasion. Just like the violinists that harmonized aboard the doomed ship, their production of That Sinking Feeling: The Case of the Invisible Body blended a perfect chord of comedy and drama.
The play was written by Brant Powell and originally performed in 2019. As the Titanic sinks, groups of passengers find themselves on lifeboats, but find that their personalities are just as big as the ship itself. In the excerpt the Cappies were shown, First Officer William Murdoch attempts to keep their lifeboat calm as drunk mystery author Jacques Frutrelle babbles about a murder, citing an invisible body as evidence of this heinous crime. Shenanigans ensue.
The entire ensemble gave a standout performance, remained engaged and reactive and kept high energy for the entirety of the performance. First Officer Murdoch (Skyyla Marks) played an excellent transition from stoic and in control to frustrated and shocked at the play's turns of events. Frutrelle (Tristan Fishel) played both emotions well, weaving back and forth between a comedic drunk and a wise author. Vivian (Grace Nambo) also conveyed this translucent characterization, with a mask of class and professionalism that thinly veiled her frustration and hatred for the other passengers. Edna (Chris Dearie) gave a phenomenal performance, from the hilarious pompous and over-the-top Edna to the cold and cunning Captain Smith, and the transition was impressive to watch. Claire Ingram (Sarah Jakubowski) delivered bit after bit, with a naivety and airheadedness that broke up the moments of tension. Tabitha Buttons (Kaitlyn Kirkpatrick), the mime, also expertly alleviated the drama, with hilarious physicality and facial expressions. All of this was framed by the three violinists (Kyleigh Loy, Maggie Kapczynski, Gabriel Saines), whose calm acceptance of the ship's fate set the tone for the dramatic aspects of the show.
The actors were kept afloat by an extremely skilled crew, who created an incredibly realistic atmosphere and brought the show to life. The props (Jannah Fawzy, Erika Abrillo) and costumes (Winky Nguyen, Natalie Saint-Rossy, Kermena Sameul, Christina Russell) were all reflective of the time period and created an immersive world. The set designers (Zoe Anderson, Amann Iqbal, Frank Ezui, Aiden Presley, Jacob Metzger) expanded upon this realism, and the lifeboat they built looked professionally done. A truly heroic effort came from the editing team (Theo Mastio, Jannah Fawzy, Nicholas Kaplan, Rachael McNutt, Natalie Saint-Rossy), who spliced each individual line to make it seem as though the actors were actually standing next to each other. Although each actor filmed on their own due to social distancing restrictions, the editing team made it seem as though they were standing face to face on the boat. These phenomenal technical aspects of the production complemented the actors perfectly and made for an immersive world.
The Titanic only claimed to be unsinkable, but Broad Run High School's production of That Sinking Feeling: The Case of the Invisible Body truly was. The actors' mastery of the balance between comedy and drama joined with the crew's skill at building a world when people have to be worlds apart. Together, they are on a collision course with greatness.