Long Reach actors draw audience into play -- really

Review

December 06, 2006|By Jessica Goldstein | Jessica Goldstein,special to the sun

Jury duty.

Two words that resound painfully in the ears of anyone who has ever had to endure the agony that is the American justice system. However, performers at Long Reach High School showed last week that even jury duty can be fun with their recent production of The Night of January 16th.

The Night of January 16th, written by Ayn Rand, is a courtroom drama set in the 1930s addressing the death of wealthy financier Bjorn Faulkner. Accused of his murder is Karen Andre, his mistress and secretary of 10 years. Is she guilty or innocent? Was it murder or suicide? The decision is in the hands of 12 audience members who are selected to act as a jury for the trial. This provides a great challenge to the cast, as they must be ready for any possible outcome.

As Mr. Flint, Billy Johnson was the epitome of a 1930s district attorney, with his fast-paced dialogue and assertive nature. From his sharp delivery to his brilliant mannerisms, Johnson was a definite highlight of the show and was well-cast in his role.

As defendant Karen Andre, Veronica Holt gave a truly chilling performance, with her eerie smirk and tongue-in-cheek lines. Her revelation of her affair with Faulkner was one of the more unnerving moments of the show but also one of the most monumental.

Tassia Walker, playing the widowed Nancy Lee Faulkner, also gave a powerful performance. Her facial expressions and acting prowess made her a pleasure to watch both on and off the stand, while her beautiful line delivery and intensity made her character's testimony hard to forget.

Aiding the leading cast was a diverse ensemble of oddball witnesses, each with something new and different to add to the case. One particularly memorable performer was Margaret Erickson in the role of Magda Svenson. Erickson, with a hilarious Swedish accent, added much-needed levity to the show but still managed to help advance the plot. Like Erickson's character, each witness carried the story line along and never failed to entertain or intrigue the audience.

With its superb cast, realistic set and impressive technical effects, Long Reach High School's The Night of January 16th was a genuine display of talent and creativity - with no objections from this court.

Jessica Goldstein, a student at Wilde Lake High School, reviewed "The Night of January 16th" for the Cappies of Baltimore, a program in which students review high school productions under the direction of their teachers and vote on awards for outstanding performances.

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