`Princess Bride' true to film - with flair

Long Reach High stages laudable comedic effort

February 19, 2004|By Michael Juba | Michael Juba,CATONSVILLE HIGH SCHOOL

Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles.

Long Reach High School's production of The Princess Bride, based on the popular movie and book, contained all these and more. The play, adapted by director Catherine Barry and her brother, J. Patrick Barry, from the screenplay by William Goldman, transported audiences to an imaginative world while telling a tale of epic proportions in performances last Thursday through Sunday.

Take a stablehand and a peasant girl, have them fall in love, turn them into a legendary pirate and a princess-to-be, and add in a giant, a vengeful Spanish swordsman, an eccentric Sicilian, a pompous prince and arrogant lackey, a few crazed townspeople, and The Princess Bride is born. True love is put to the ultimate test as the stablehand is forced to overcome kidnapping, torture, a fire swamp and even being "mostly dead" to save the peasant girl.

Leads Buttercup, the peasant girl (Lindsay Alford), and Westley, the stablehand (Liam Conley), carried the show to new heights. Character development throughout the play culminated in one passionate kiss where not only true love, but true chemistry, could be seen. Inigo Montoya (Chantal Hall), Fezzik (William Hernandez) and Vizzini (Nicholas Artimovich) used fight choreography and unique characterizations to add needed spice to the storyline.

Comic relief was the glue that held the show together. Humperdinck (Yury Lomakin) and Miracle Max (Katy Wolf), along with cameos by the Ancient Booer (Marnie McLain) and the Impressive Clergyman (Bruce Wilson), and the unforgettable Rodents of Unusual Size (ensemble Katherine Edwards, Jonny Simmonds and Allison Fleming) were the needed chocolate coating on the "miracle pill," helping the complex plot remain accurate.

The technical component of the show highlighted the talents onstage. Quick set changes that included a turning house, two boats and a swamp were smooth and efficient. The sets, while simple in nature, were extremely detailed and furthered the notion of a different world.

Lighting designer Sarah Splaine should be commended. She created ingenious and artistic cues that were composed of an ocean and a tree-lined backdrop, not to mention flawless cues that enhanced aside comments and audience focus.

Substantial applause goes to Hall and Conley, who were able to perform elaborate fight scenes faultlessly and with ease.

A combined effort by all the students created a show that amazed, moved and dazzled with witty dialogue, wonderful technical components and exceptional characterization that surpassed expectations.

Michael Juba reviewed "The Princess Bride" for the Baltimore Cappies, a program in which high school students review student productions and vote on annual awards for outstanding performances.

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