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Best written reviews for That Sinking Feeling: The Delectable Tale of Richard Parker performed by Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Virginia. Reviewed on April 17, 2021.

Rebecca Connor

South County High School


Whenever disaster strikes, insanity and hysteria are bound to strike. Such is the case on a small lifeboat adrift in the icy sea after the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Following the absurd tale of six strangers, Broad Run High School's production of "That Sinking Feeling: The Delectable Tale of Richard Parker" artfully blended tragedy and comedy to create an unforgettable show.


Written by Brant Powell, "That Sinking Feeling: The Delectable Tale of Richard Parker" is one of a collection of three stories that details the immediate aftermath of the Titanic's sinking. After exchanging stories, including some from writer Edgar Allen Poe, the survivors pull a man in from the water. His presence quickly incites fear among some members of the lifeboat, leading the band of strangers down a treacherous path.


With eccentric gestures and high energy in the role of Dorothy Gibson, Rachael McNutt lifted the show beautifully, carefully utilizing consistent physicality to fill the space. By varying how she handled her repeated lines, Dorothy's penchant for drama and acting came across beautifully. Opposite the vivacious Dorothy was Sam Fila as Sarah Westerly, who helped to ground the show with sincere and clear expressions. Her genuine emotions and consistent accent helped to pull the show together, especially when juxtaposed with some of the more comedic characters.


Mike Spage as Victor Volkov provided excellent comedic relief to the show with perfect timing and solid physicality, adapting to each scene as necessary. His fluid Russian accent helped to add to the mood of the show and helped to alleviate many somber moments. Ailish Cole excellently captured Hudson's slow descent into madness, transitioning clearly from a more grounding presence in the show to a catalyst for destruction. The cohesion of the actors during the ensemble scenes was commendable, and the embrace of the strange circumstances the characters found themselves in created a fulfilling performance. In the final scene of the show, Kyleigh Loy as Wallace Hartley executed a heartbreaking ending that brought depth and contrasted a more somber mood with some of the more absurd moments.


Combining virtual backgrounds and in-person set pieces, director Theo Mastio navigated the rough terrain of pandemic-era theatre flawlessly. With physical interactions limited by social distancing, the use of comical props during the fight scenes only served to heighten the insane tone of the production. The use of green screen was executed wonderfully, with the use of thematic overlays adding beautiful depth to the story. The director and the rest of the editing team (Jannah Fawzy, Nicholas Kaplan, Rachael McNutt, Natalie Saint-Rossy) are to be commended for stitching together each scene in such a smooth manner, especially given how each actor was filmed separately, to create an astounding production. The costumes (Winky Nguyen, Natalie Saint-Rossy, Kermena Sameul, Christina Russell) helped bring the show to life, creating the feel of a true period piece, especially with the beautiful flapper-style dress worn by Rachael McNutt.


The cast of "That Sinking Feeling: The Delectable Tale of Richard Parker" admirably juggled the absurd and somber nature of this show, complemented by an amazing technical array. Full of attention to detail and juxtaposition, this show is best summed up by a quote from the great Edgar Allen Poe: "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."

Kailee St. John

Thomas A. Edison High School


Titanic. Everyone knows the story, or at least, they think they do. Broad Run High School presented their new show, "That Sinking Feeling: The Delectable Tale of Richard Parker," a captivating comedic spin on the classic story. What awaits these lifeboat occupants adrift at sea? Could it be murder, the undead, or perhaps, the master of macabre himself, Edgar Allen Poe.


Musicians played a sweet serenade as water flooded the ship, yet amidst the ocean waves laid another, much smaller boat with troubles all its own. The passengers shared a haunting tale as tensions rose and tides swelled. A wealthy socialite, a glorious actress, a British sailor, and a mysterious stranger pulled from the sea waited for rescue. But how long would it take, and what happened beneath the black of night?


This offbeat show, by local playwright, Brant Powell, was not afraid to embrace its absurdities with a sense of self-aware humor that was wonderfully hilarious and engaging to watch. Of particular note was Mike Spage's performance as the endearing Victor Volkov. Spage's Russian accent was quite impressive and served to further emphasize his impeccable comedic delivery. With well-timed breaks of the fourth wall and one liners to spare, Spage was a brilliant adddition to this well rounded ensemble. Rachael McNutt was enchanting as famed actress Dorothy Gibson, a woman with a particular flair for the dramatic who viewed life as a never-ending rehearsal, because rehearsals, after all, mean you can always have a do over. McNutt's audacious energy was consistently intriguing as she managed to find the perfect balance between comedy and drama.


Sam Fila was tremendous as Sarah Westerly, whom she portrayed with a beautiful sincerity that not only contrasted her more animated counterparts but helped to ground this otherwise farcical show. Another standout was the trio of violinists played by Kyleigh Loy, Maggie Kapczynski, and Gabriel Saines. Their authentic chemistry bookended the performance in only the best of ways. Maggie Kapczynski as John "Jock" Hume immediately captured attention as her frantic distress revealed a more truthful side to the maritime tragedy. Kyleigh Loy brought an unexpected somberness to the role of Wallace "Wally" Hartley, which was sure to touch any audience member.      


Despite the distancing restrictions placed upon them, the students of Broad Run High School worked creatively and collaboratively in order to achieve a feat of technical production. Their commitment to excellence was especially evident in the intricacies of the editing. The dedication of the editing team (Theo Mastio, Jannah Fawzy, Nicholas Kaplan, Rachael McNutt, Natalie Saint-Rossy) was highly commendable and the result was a seamless production that created the illusion of close proximity. The use of green screen made the show all the more immersive and helped create the ambience of cinema. This was also helped, in part, by the work of the fantastic lighting team (Kate Baltazar-Toral, Nicholas Kaplan, Rachael McNutt, Amann Iqbal, Aiden Presley). It truly appeared as though the actors were illuminated by the moon's light, a lovely touch that further enhanced the atmospheric quality of the set. The costuming was beautifully done by Winky Nguyen, Natalie Saint-Rossy, Kermena Sameul, and Christina Russell, who managed to create distinctive characters within the realm of period appropriate attire. Allison Carver's blue gown and delicate fur exuded wealth and extravagance, while Dorthy Gibson's stunning gold dress was the pinnacle of Hollywood glitz.


The water's rising and chaos is descending. Get ready to meet the passengers of the world's most famous ship but prepare yourselves and grab a life vest because you are in for a couple of twists.  


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