A play review, by Travis Peck
Insightful, a word not traditionally uttered in the same sentence with teenagers. We praise small children for being so honest, often to the point of hilarity. As those same children become self aware and begin forming their own personalities and opinions we begin writing them off as angry, disrespectful, unmanageable or just disconnected.
Last night my wife and I attended the play ‘His Nineteenth Year’ at the Robson PAC’s black box theater. After encouragement from a friend who had seen it the night before, we walked in purchased two of the less than 100 available tickets and found our way into the theater. A sell out crowd (extra chairs were brought in to make space) set unprepared for the art that would unfold before us.
The play was written produced and directed by Maddie Lyons and Alyssa Brown, both students at Claremore High School. They have been acting in school and community productions most of their young lives and only six short months ago decided it was time to create one of their own.
Pulling from their limited life experience, the two young women had a vision, and with the help of their friends and family found not only a story, but a true insight of American society.
The play takes place in Alabama. We enter the home of the Murray family and find ourselves engrossed with the drama surrounding the death of their young son Hayes. A broken home, a death, an engagement, and a pregnancy hardly seem like comedic topics, but as with real life sometimes we must find the laughs to combat the tears. Bickering over who is to blame and the disconnect of parents and children propel this one act play from smiles to tears and back again.
As stated by the creators, “We wrote His Nineteenth Year with the hope that each member of our audience will be able to forge a connection with at least one character.”
I can’t express the true level of talent that these young performers produced. Perfect casting and a concise and pointed script made this one of my favorite theater experiences to date. Their acting ability, timing and delivery were on level with the best of the best. Laughing out loud and shedding tears both have a therapeutic effect. This hour long session provided both. A diverse audience from teens to grandparents found themselves looking inward and assessing their own life choices and those upcoming.
In a society where we often discredit the youth, a production like His Nineteenth Year confirms that our next generation has plenty to contribute and teach us all.