You Are Here

The peril of living in the teenage wasteland, forced to peer into “the great void of the unknown,” is the subject of You Are Here, a FringeNext presentation by the Village Idiots, students from The Seven Hills School.

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click to enlarge 'You Are Here'
'You Are Here'

The peril of living in the teenage wasteland, forced to peer into “the great void of the unknown,” is the subject of You Are Here, a FringeNext presentation by the Village Idiots, students from The Seven Hills School. You Are Here was written by Sawyer Pardo and co-directed by Pardo and Kate Coley. The play centers on August (Sophia Manyet) and Violet (Margot Grom), high school girls who are dissatisfied with their parents, grades, sexuality, God and their places in the universe. They repeat the mantra “I want more,” which leads them down the rabbit hole when they discover mysterious red-bound, locked books that enable them to relive their lives and painful memories.The journey to the point where August and Violet can begin reliving their journey is a bit awkwardly paced. However, once the journey begins, there are powerful scenes from the vantage points of acting and writing, making the trip worthwhile. We get to see a birthday party, a scene of sexual awakening between two girls, a parental diatribe over a blasphemous drawing and other windows into the girls’ lives.In a program note, Pardo confesses that this work was initially a monologue, but he was advised to turn it into a play. After eight months of what he calls intense “writing, editing, rewriting, second-guessing and meltdowns,” the piece became a perfect vehicle for his actors. Pardo has a particular genius for getting to the heart of a scene and writing dialogue that moves the play forward — a skill that would benefit some of the adult Fringe artists. His writing allows his actors to shine when they build on his words. As August and Violet, Manyet and Grom delivered strong performances, selling the troubled girls’ stories and drawing the audience into the action. Manyet had enough fire in her belly to make her role come alive; Grom played repressed Violet with believability.Kate Coley and Melissa Campbell also turned in fine work as a variety of supporting characters. Melissa Campbell did an especially nice job with the role of Emily, playing a game of Truth or Dare with Violet. Kudos also to Terrence Cooney-Waterhouse and Michael Kaper, male ensemble members who played a variety of different objects throughout the play — bookcases, pieces of furniture and so on. They learned very well from their physical movement classes.The play is performed in the OTR Community Church’s sanctuary. Its high-vaulted ceiling made it hard to hear the performers because their voices did not project and were often lost in the rafters. Moreover, the actors were not directing their lines toward the audience, making it hard to grasp what they were saying. Compounding these problems on opening night, a pounding rain created ambient white noise.I hope the cast will make the necessary adjustments for subsequent performances so these problems are reduced. It’s a shame to miss out on what they are saying.

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