Author Topic: Cappies review: Ridgemont High's We'll Be Better Later presented with effortless poise and grace  (Read 121 times)

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Cappies review: Ridgemont High's We'll Be Better Later presented with effortless poise and grace

Show #12: We’ll Be Better Later Where: Ridgemont High School Director: Jessie Lavallee Tory Woodhead, Critic Elmwood School Ping! You hurriedly look for your phone. What was it? A text? A Snap? An Instagram comment? A Twitter notification? You search and search and you cannot find it. And then you remember you are in rehab […]

Show #12: We’ll Be Better Later


Where: Ridgemont High School


Director: Jessie Lavallee




Tory Woodhead, Critic


Elmwood School


Ping! You hurriedly look for your phone. What was it? A text? A Snap? An Instagram comment? A Twitter notification? You search and search and you cannot find it. And then you remember you are in rehab for your Internet addiction. For six teens, this horrifying tale is a reality. In Ridgemont High School’s production of Laura Jacqmin’s We’ll Be Better Later, this timely cyber comedy was brought to life.


At a rehabilitation centre for teenagers obsessed with the internet, things are what you would expect: Boring. The prisoners, however, are anything but that. There are the twins, Brianna and Beatrice, two soccer fanatic sisters who cannot live without their Manchester United stats; Fiona, a girl of coarse character who is obsessed with an online role play game; Sari, a girl obsessed with everything Japan; and Maycayla, the shy one of the bunch, who would rather talk to people online than IRL (in real life).


Every day, this eclectic group is cooped up and ordered around by a stern General and his Minion, who both insist that the teens pedal their addictions away, until Lauren walks on the scene and everything changes. Lauren, a boy obsessed with algebra, decides to start a revolution against the tyrannical General, and with the help of the other prisoners, maybe, just maybe, they will finally get their phones back.


Ridgemont High School portrayed this hyper relevant piece with effortless poise and grace. Although only a cast of eight, every member’s stage presence and talent was enough to fill the whole auditorium.


Johnny Ramsay shone as Lauren, perfectly embodying the awkward character with ease and ingenuity. Even when he did not speak, his stage presence was undeniable. From frog puns to his crazy dance moves, when he was on stage, hilarity ensued.


Gabriela Cubar stunned as the shy Maycayla. With her body language and constant movement, her performance seemed natural. She gracefully assumed this quiet role, but through her portrayal, her character was never stuck in the shadows.


This performance was enhanced by the minimalist set comprised of a few tables, chairs, and rust-stained walls. The set perfectly depicted stereotypical prison-like conditions and brought the story to life. The stage crew also added to the show. Each member of the stage crew was wearing janitor-like jumpsuits to make them seem like a part of the detention centre itself. The stage crew was able to seamlessly transition between scenes, and the sound and lighting crew were always right on cue.


Ridgemont High School put on an amazing rendition of this timely play. It was so entertaining that I didn’t even feel the need to check my cellphone once.





Allison Anderson, Lead Critic


St. Patrick’s High School


“I present to you a revolution!” Ridgemont High School’s production of We’ll Be Better Later was a conceptual and entertaining story of antisocialism and teenage empowerment.


Written by Laura Jacqmin, this present day technological dystopia tells the story of a ragtag gang of antisocial teenagers. Obsessed with the internet to the extreme, their parents send them all away for rehabilitation. When newcomer Lauren arrives, he shakes things up and starts a revolution! Changing lives and giving the inmates more help than they could have received from the General, Lauren uses his quirks to save the day.


Playing the part of the quirky hero of this story, Johnny Ramsay as Lauren effectively portrayed the character. Using exaggerated movements and facial expressions, Ramsay always stayed in character and held up the illusion of the show. His comedic delivery was evident in the algebra battle between his character and the General, portrayed by Thomas Pilson.


Pilson used his total control of voice to set the mood of the scene. In his monologue, dedicated to the daughter who left him, Pilson showed his versatility when he snapped right back into the fear-imposing General. Gabriela Cubar as Maycayla was consistent with her character. Constantly twiddling her thumbs as a nod to her inhibiting shyness, Cubar showed characterization even without speaking. Also, when the character finally comes out of her shell, Cubar gave good enunciation, making her thoughts and emotions very clear.


The sets were minimalistic and worked well with the show. As a rehabilitation centre is the location for every scene, the set team adequately designed and realized their ideas for the sets, finishing them with detail and creativity. The voice over of what was meant to be a calming voice to the inmates gave an interesting effect. The lighting also added to the show, helping to portray the different emotions of the characters. The sounds chosen for the background of the scenes, including music as well as sirens, fit the scenes very well.


Ridgemont High School’s production of We’ll Be Better Later gave a criminally good performance. Giving 110%, the cast and crew were successful in their performance of this dystopian comedy.





Grace Goldberg, Critic


Elmwood School


Confinement and no electronics are hard enough for any teenager, but when a bunch of internet-addicted and online-obsessed adolescents are put into one detention camp, a revolution is brewing. Ridgemont High School’s intriguing rendition of the humorous dark comedy We’ll be Better Later, proved that just because you may be a social outcast, does not mean that you are socially hopeless.


Laura Jacqmin’s We’ll be Better Later, originally published in 2012, has become a captivating play as the idea of technology over-taking teenagers is much more prevalent in modern day society. Having been abandoned by their parents at a reform camp for online-obsessed teenagers and forced to make small talk about the weather, the adolescent inmates are miserable. The ever-bickering twins, Beatrice and Brianna, cannot check up on their soccer stats, intimidating Fiona shall not destroy in her online fantasy world, captivated Sari is isolated from immersing herself in Japanese culture, and quiet Maycayla will not conquer her shyness. However, when the new kid, algebra loving Lauren, is “enrolled” here by his parents, he fearlessly revolts against The General with the help of the other imprisoned teens. Through a straightforward performance of We’ll be Better Later, Ridgemont High School captured what it means to be a band of misfits yet still prevail.


Johnny Ramsay in the geeky role of algebra-wiz Lauren truly embodied the character. Ramsay conveyed Lauren’s awkwardness with an outgoing take on the character through his voice and physicality. He instantly displayed the character’s personality as he reluctantly gave up his calculator and phone from his pockets. With deliberate movements and facial expressions, he displayed hesitance as he sheepishly gave up one electronic and then the next. Ramsay also took full advantage of the spotlight while he delivered jokes about frogs and laughed at his own quips in order to further develop the social inadequacy of the character.


As the dynamic and commanding General, Thomas Pilson created an atmosphere of hilarity as well as compassion. From his voice and stance to his heartfelt monologue about his missing daughter, Pilson moved seamlessly between the layers of emotion and expertly used his sunglasses and jacket to convey many of the character’s inner feelings.


Lighting also played an important role in creating the atmosphere needed in order to allow the set to come to life as a detention camp. Chris Commons, Lighting Designer and Operator, used a white light illuminating The General’s platform and ceiling, which truly resembled a correctional facility’s watch light. During the final scene, Commons utilized coloured, flickering lights to symbolize the inmates’ victorious escape. Commons did not falter once and used lighting to convey a realistic set.


Costuming and hair done by Kierra Mendonca further assisted in connecting the actors to the inmates. The actors were adorned with orange t-shirts, making them look like prisoners. The General also had a very distinctive costume, which set him apart from the rest of the characters by symbolizing his authority. Hair was not only accurately fitting under the circumstances of the camp but was also designed to enhance character traits. While the soccer-loving twins each had two French braids, The General had gelled and neat hair, typical for an authority figure. The misunderstood and Japanese loving Sari wore two buns atop her head displaying her passion for Japan.


Ridgemont High School’s We’ll Be Better Later called attention onto itself, due to the well-thought-out design of the lighting, hair, and costumes. Also, its small cast expertly delivered relevant humour to convey the theme that even the socially awkward are not socially hopeless.





Rachel Konkal, Critic


Notre Dame High School


Everyone is telling the younger generations that they are addicted to their phones! But what is being done about it to help the pixel prone people of the world? We’ll Be Better Later by Laura Jacqmin takes a comedic approach to the problem with a story of a prison-like camp meant to fix the antisocial, backward youths of today. Ridgemont High school performed with a creative flourish, making their play unique.


When Lauren, another internet-obsessive teen, comes to the General’s rehabilitation camp, the methods used there perplex him. The puppy video hours, pedaling, and talking exercises seem futile to him. But any resistance to the General’s orders are met with yelling, intimidation and solitary confinement. Lauren is then driven to help his fellow screen-starved inmates plan a revolution, and hopefully a realization by the adults, that there’s nothing wrong with having different passions. Along the way the teens also realize that maybe some things, like friends, are better made outside of the internet.


The Ridgemont crew, led by Artistic Director Kierra Mendonca, set the dark but humorous mood with all their creative adaptations to the play. The feeling of oppression was heightened by the imposing set, with the watchtower and rust stains on the prison walls. The whole set was turned from a scary inescapable jail, to a ridiculous daycare-like place by all the stuffed animals strewn about, and the aggressive but friendly demeanour that Thomas Pilson and Tyrone-Wesley Marcotte directed towards the other actors. Another creative flourish they added was a rap song for the finale, written and performed by Kamar Edwards. They all did a fantastic job of making the whole play funny, and relatable.


There are many good things to be said about Johnny Ramsay as Lauren, the newcomer into the camp. He never lost character and was always interesting to watch due to his moving, reacting, looking about in bewilderment and implementing his own geeky gestures. He seemed genuinely excited about his algebra and frog jokes. Ramsay knew exactly what to do to be the comedic epicentre of the show. He also played well off of Gabriela Cubar as the shy girl Maycayla. She reacted to everything in a way that displayed the struggles Maycayla has without the confidence the internet gives her. By jumping away from the chair she flipped, and always avoiding the gaze of others, Cubar was constantly reacting, a skill that all actors should master, and Cubar has


Layla Kairouz and Lama Hammoud as the twins, Beatrice and Brianna, made such a perfect pair, with their almost matching hair and shirt customizations. It was hard to tell them apart, they acted so in sync. It was if they were both one character. Another pair that did well was Pilson and Marcotte as the General and Minion. These two however, were the opposite of each other, with Marcotte being the strong but soft hearted one while Pilson played the resolute, commanding figure. As with opposite ends of a magnet, they stuck together well.


Thanks to the creativity of the cast and crew at Ridgemont High School, they produced a thoroughly funny show that was relevant to the youth of today. They approached the very real issue of internet addiction with humour and compassion. If at first there seems to be no solution to a problem, laugh at it, then maybe it will be easier to deal with. That is the message that Ridgemont High school gave with their production of We’ll Be Better Later.


 





Reona Wilcox, Lead Critic


Colonel By Secondary School


Take out your ear buds, turn off your phones and get ready for a revolution. Ridgemont High School’s rendition of the darkly comedic play We’ll Be Better Later was entertaining and reminded us to never give up on our potential.


We’ll Be Better Later depicts the story of a group of cell phone-addicted teens who are living their days in a detention centre, forced to make small talk and completely isolated from their phones. This is all done in an attempt to rehabilitate them. But how long must they stay here? Days, weeks, months, years? When Lauren, an algebra obsessed teen, enters into their ranks, he reminds them of life outside the detention centre’s walls, and how they are not as odd as everyone makes them out to be. With his help, is their dream of escape possible?


The cast of We’ll Be Better Later made an admirable effort, with expressive, detail-oriented performances. The creativity aspects put into the play, specifically a rap written by Kamar Edwards, allowed for the principle theme of We’ll Be Better Later to stand out – technology and its impact on our lives.


Johnny Ramsay personified the oddball teen, Lauren. Ramsay commanded the stage, with his consistently animated movements that brought out just what made Lauren so unique. This, coupled with a natural entertaining quality to his voice, enhanced the comedic nature of the role.


As the shy but supporting Maycayla, Gabriela Cubar did a fantastic job. She effectively brought out the timid nature of the character with subtle movements. Whether it was a simple taping on her leg to demonstrate her unease or fearing the sound of her chair falling over, Cubar was a compelling sight.


Amongst a cast of wonderfully amusing actors, Lauren Pennington stood out as the MMORPG gamer, Fiona. Pennington demonstrated a large range of emotions, and the moments where her character was angry were well executed and always enhanced the energy of a scene.


Kierra Mendonca and her team designed costumes that were simple but well executed, with little touches of detail on the prison jumpsuits that brought to life every character, distinguishing each one from the rest. This cohesiveness was effective in bringing solidarity to the main group of prisoners. Chris Commons’ direction of stage lighting was impressive and always on time, never missing a cue. Likewise, the sound effects were fun and imaginative. Many different sounds were used throughout We’ll Be Better Later, everything from ringtones to disco music to drums at the end of a joke. Duthi Deb’s choices allowed for a riveting production.


Ridgemont High School’s production of We’ll Be Better Later was unusual and expressive, bringing about a thoughtful discussion on our use of technology and our interactions with others. This absurd production showed us just how un-absurd are the actual lives we live without technology.




About the reviews:

The production at Ridgemont High School was reviewed by 24 critics representing 9 schools. The critic discussions were mentored by teacher Wendy Gunter-Woods of Woodroffe High School and student reviews were edited and selected for publication by teacher Deborah Grinnell of Glebe Collegiate Institute, who could see only the reviews, not the names or schools of the reviewers.


Next review: Woodroffe High School’s production of The Pajama Game.


 About the Cappies


The Citizen and 24 high schools are participating in the Cappies, a Washington, D.C.-based program that uses high school critics to review high school theatre. The program is a unique partnership between the Citizen, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Two schools from other boards in the region and two private schools have also joined. The four winners of the lead acting categories will receive a bursary provided by the international law firm Gowling WLG Canada LLP. Follow the Cappies on Twitter @OttawaCappies. 


Source: Cappies review: Ridgemont High's We'll Be Better Later presented with effortless poise and grace