Three evenings, 10 short plays

Gordon Jones
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A showcase and celebration opened at the LSPU Hall  Thursday: the 38th annual Newfoundland and Labrador School Theatre Arts Festival, featuring 10 short plays over the course of three evenings, adjudicated by Steve O’Connell of “Republic of Doyle,” delivered by 150 students from across the province representing schools  that won regional competitions.

First up was Mealy Mountain Collegiate with “Crushed,” a 35-minute piece about awkward first dates and the angst of adolescent love. It was a good-humoured opening for the festival.

This feisty little comedy was followed by a melodrama based on a Charlotte Bronte novel, Robert Johanson’s “Jane Ayre: Life at Lowood,” performed on a simple set, evocatively lit by Gordon Cooper. Very fine work came from four female principals: the mature, reflective Jane, who is the ever-present narrator (Mackenzie Dove), the young and fiery Jane (Brandy Murphy), the pretty and friendly but ultimately doomed Helen (Laura Chaytor), and an abusive, old battle-axe, who finally gets what she deserves (Kaitlin Critch).

Ascension Collegiate closed out the first night with a zany piece entitled “Cardbored,” written by Ascension students and actors, Marc Warren and Brandon West. Opening with song and dance by a big chorus on a bare stage, the play proceeds to illustrate more than you ever knew about what can be done with cardboard boxes: a red-headed duck pecking at scraps of cardboard, a guy in a cardboard tux, a stone-faced king in a castle of cardboard, a ballerina with cardboard tutu, cardboard dog kennels for Brandon and Josh and Gav (whose girlfriends have sent them there), birds flying on cardboard wings, or sweethearts in the cardboard prow of “Titanic” — all this and more, accompanied by sound-effects galore.

Generating waves of belly laughter, “Cardbored” was the kind of show you wanted not to end. When it did, the applause was rapturous. Let’s hope we will see more work from Warren and West.

For a full wrap on the weekend’s festival performances, see The Telegram Monday.

Geographic location: Brandon West

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