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WENDY ROSE: ‘Begets: Fall of a High School Ronin’ gets two thumbs up

A scene from Mad As Hops Productions’ staging of the play of “Begets: Fall of a High School Ronin” at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s.
A scene from Mad As Hops Productions’ staging of the play of “Begets: Fall of a High School Ronin” at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s. - Wendy Rose photo

A small but mighty team of youth actors are in command of the LSPU Hall stage this week, as Mad as Hops Productions puts on its 2018 show.
Directed by John Bowden and Trevor Menchions, “Begets: Fall of a High School Ronin” opened on Thursday, Nov. 15 — a school night for the young actors.

Set in a typical high school, the play, written by Vietnamese playwright Qui Nguyen, is not your typical coming-of-age high school story.

“Begets: The Fall of a High School Ronin” is an exploration of the idea that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Both the storyline and the characters draw inspiration from classic action and martial arts movies, but “Begets” is not the story of a girl who wins — it’s the story of a girl who falls.

Eight local students and recent graduates played 24 characters in the show, centred around Emi Edwards (Erica Foote), a high school student.
Edwards is one of the many bullied kids at her school, ruled by a hierarchy of vicious cliques.

The preps, jocks, goths, school band, drama kids, and nerds are all trying to carve out their own niche in the public school, or at least, stay under the radar of “The Royals,” the top of the high school food chain.

Standing up for a tormented overweight girl, Edwards ends up getting into a fight, and defeats two bullying boys.

This small action has great consequences, slowly sending the high school power dynamics into a freefall after attracting the attention of shogun Andrea Armstrong (Emma Hayden), leader of “The Royals,” and older sister of Edwards’ former best friend and current secret crush, Mary Armstrong (Kate Whelan).

Edwards is one of the many bullied kids at her school, ruled by a hierarchy of vicious cliques.  The preps, jocks, goths, school band, drama kids, and nerds are all trying to carve out their own niche in the public school, or at least, stay under the radar of “The Royals,” the top of the high school food chain.

What started as one accidental brawl turns into a series of fistfights, as Edwards begins to be scouted to stand up for those unable to fight their own battles.

Each fight — choreographed by Kirsti Mikoda and perfectly presented by the actors — creates a slow burn, as cliques around school begin to feel the heat from Edwards’ fiery rage.

Her new role as the go-to gal creates complications for Edwards, with her old friend Mary, other classmates, her idiotic guidance counsellor, and her parents.

Unabashedly set on doing good with her fists of fury, Edwards’ quest for righteousness could soon turn sour.

Throughout the show, the audience is aware of this potential twist, as “Begets” not only stars Edwards, but is also narrated by Edwards’ subconscious (Ananya Anthony).

Alongside the main actors, Cole Williams, Rose Dalton, Caleb Layman, and Grant Hayden all take a turn in the limelight, their characters’ stories and backgrounds playing a part in Edwards ongoing crusade.

These young actors are worth watching — having seen Mad As Hops 2016 production of “Love and Information,” these up-and-comers are extremely versatile in their talents, and will surely be coming to a stage near you for many years to come.

In the meantime, here’s hoping that these students have/had a much more enjoyable high school experience, with less violence and cruel cliques, but with just as much unapologetic badassery in being true to one’s own self.

“Begets: Fall of a High School Ronin” at the LSPU Hall ends Saturday.

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