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Friends Like These

ensemble theatre · theatre unleashed · Ages 13+ · United States of America

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June 25, 2014

My overall impression

Gregory Crafts has written an insightful play about what teens must deal with daily in high school, both the good and the bad. Taking his inspiration from the Columbine shooting, Crafts has put together an assortment of characters easily recognizable from the Geeks to the Jocks and the Popular crowd, letting us see both the camaraderie with their peers and bullying from their haters, for whatever reason.

Produced by Theatre Unleashed and directed by Wendy Gough Soroka at the intimate Elephant Space, the show takes a hard look at what we now call bullying in the years before the term became common place or Facebook and Twitter carried the practice to the internet. The five students are all trying to find their way, never mentioning any help from their parents. I hope that all parents who see the production will start teaching their kids to NEVER allow anyone to bully anyone else.

You know from the start that there will be a school shooting at the high school where the show takes place, but not who the shooter or victims will be. There are many possibilities, given the jealousy brewing when geeky Garrett (Scott Sharma) takes up with popular cheerleader Nicole (Parissa Koo). Garrett’s friends Bryan (Casey Flanagan) and Diz (Sammi Lappin) and Nicole’s ex-boyfriend Jesse (Lee Pollero) do their best to end the new romance, which leads to murder and mayhem.

Garrett, Bryan and Diz have created a fantasy world game called Haven which they play in the woods outside of town on one weekend per month. The scenes of imaginary combat are so well staged and lit, you will honestly feel you are part of the game. Brilliant choreography by Sean Fitzgerald.

Theater is meant to start discussions about the lessons learned or experiences shared. As a former high school teacher who experienced student murders and the resulting campus fear afterwards, I will be thinking and talking about this show for a long time and sincerely hope it will be produced at schools across the country.

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