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Best written reviews for “Brutal Death of Brutaldeath” performed by Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Reviewed on May 20, 2021.

This show may be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dfp3rQOXJXQ


Katie Wood

Centreville High School


The ghost of the deceased turns the search for their murderer into a humorous case, uncovering upper class train passengers' true colors. Loosely inspired by Agatha Christie's timeless mystery, Murder on the Orient Express, Wakefield High School created the witty comedy, The Brutal Death of Brutaldeath. A beautifully executed production performed entirely on zoom to adapt to this year's theatre norms, Wakefield's theatre two class showed strength and unique innovation with both technical and physical aspects of the show.


The Brutal Death of Brutaldeath walked through the case of the unfortunate railroad murder of Brutaldeath, while interrogating and checking the alibis of other passengers with large personalities. The narrator and comedic ghost, Brutaldeath, was played by Rain Varela. Though the victim of the mystery, Varela brightened the ominous mood with her distinctive accent and ability to make comedy out of a theme as morbid as her own character's death.


Spiraling to the point of confession, Maria Derumer, played by Abby Berner, gave unexpected humanity and depth to a seemingly two-dimensional murder. Her frantic movements leading up to her breakdown revealed her guilt. Within her long monologue where she called her actions monstrous and explained her motive fueled by jealousy, Berner gave a moment of drama which contrasted the show's heavy comedy.


The performance showcased each actor's individual skills nicely, which greatly enhanced the many different character dynamics. The most prominent examples of this were in the interactions done between Detective Plaid, who was played by Andrew Egeland, and the rest of the possible suspects. Each suspect's various personas were defined by their nervous habits while discussing their knowledge of the murder. Whether that was observed through darting eyes and constant sipping of tea, or simply heard through tone and inflection in their voices, all were untrustworthy in the eyes of the detective. Martha Gebreslassie who portrayed Karen Smith was a noteworthy example of this as she consistently reacted to other's actions and showed her character's nerves for the show's entirety. Andrew Egeland contrasted all the suspects' nervous tells by embodying the intelligence and calm manner of an experienced detective who is resolved to solve a case.


The fascinating character relationships can be attributed to the fact that the theatre two class's students collaborated to write their own script for the production, which was impressively cohesive with enthralling building action to an eerily shocking climax. The script writing progressed in a manner that was engaging and easy to understand. Instead of forcing an audience member to ponder hard on who the murderer could have been while missing critical moments, it explained things in a clever fashion where the audience could find out the progressions in the case with the characters.


To aid the audience's understanding of the plot, which was constantly evolving, Abby Berner and Penelope Wagner created informative title cards and put scenes together with shifting focal points. The transitions between groups of people being highlighted was ambitious and flowed adroitly. Another technical aspect that immensely put the production's feel into perspective was the additional use of music. Giving off an old-fashioned movie vibe that was a dark and farcical combination, the music selection was impeccable.


Wakefield High School's The Brutal Death of Brutaldeath helped to close this school year's season of high school theatre with a memorable and quick paced show which encompassed the true meaning of a whodunit mystery.

Abigail Domingue

Tuscarora High School


Choo choo! All aboard Wakefield High Schools' production of "The Brutal Death of Brutal Death". A virtual play that plays on the classic whodunit murder mystery, Wakefield's original take on the classic troupe is a can't miss show. Opening with the postmortem monologue of the recently deceased, Brutaldeath, eccentric first class passengers have to figure out which of their peers is responsible for the murder of the German poet. This comedy full of twists and turns left audiences stunned and wanting for productions from the creatively talented Wakefield High School's department.


The show opened with the recently deceased, Brutaldeath, commenting about his death, about the irony of his name and his death, and how he could not rest until his murderer was brought to justice. Portrayed by Rain Varela, Brutaldeath narrated and broke the fourth wall throughout the show, which fully immersed the audience into the production. Varela's accent and vocal commitment to her character really brought the character to life, even through the virtual setting. Valera's monologues throughout the show provided the audience with comedic breaks from the chaotic energy that the ensemble of train passengers brought. Varela's performance of Brutaldeath's irony and manic personality really made her performance a standout in this classic whodunit murder mystery.


Even through the virtual setting, the train passengers were able to create beautifully chaotic scenes and played off each other well. One passenger who stood out was Penelope Wagner's Elizabeth Jane Vain. Her attention to detail, like the use of the physical task of drinking tea, and her use of props, like the stuffed dog she used, brought her character to another level. Wagner's ability to play off her peers made the plot seamless and entertaining. Another passenger who brought different energy to the passenger scenes was Owen Andrews. Andrews' character John Wane Bundy, a mellow southern fellow, brought a good contrast of energy to the scenes. While a lot of the characters had large eccentric and chaotic personalities, Andrews' mellow persona brought an interesting contrast to scenes. His accent was slow, deliberate, easy to comprehend, and consistent throughout the entire show. Much like John Wayne, Andrews' ability to play off his fellow cast members made the play even more enticing and dynamic.


With the popularity of virtual shows, technical aspects are becoming more and more complicated and more demanding, however the theatre community has risen to the occasion. Wakefield's show consisted of several savvy transitions and time period accurate music that combined both the dramatic and comedic elements of the show. This is all thanks to Abby Berner and her video editing skills. Her skills made the show clean, concise, and easy to follow. Berner's essential role in the show helped highlight the talent of the many actors and actresses and make Wakefield's show even more professional.


Wakefield's original virtual show, "The Brutal Death of Brutaldeath" is a can't miss show. Written completely by the cast, the show takes the audience on a wild ride, filled with twists and turns, clues and culprits, and mystery and monologues. The cast understood the assignment and hit every mark, the ensemble's seamless work created chaotic and engaging scenes, every cast member was in the moment (even when they were not saying lines) and brought their all to this show. Wakefield's hard work and dedication to their craft was shown time and time again in this show, and they delivered a delightful (and slightly devious) original murder mystery.


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