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Osbourn High School's convincing 'King Stag'

Keith Boylan, a student at George C. Marshall High School reviews Osbourn High School’s “King Stag” as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.


Michael Morrow, Peter Higginbotham, David Jung, Emily Nelson and Bryan Croson from Osbourn High School. (Photo courtesy of Osbourn High School)

Long before computer-generated images and the blockbuster smash “Avatar,” someone else was toying around with the idea of inhabiting another being’s body in the name of science fiction. In 1762, Carlo Gozzi’s “King Stag” considered the possibility of a deer and the man who takes over its body almost to chaotic, confusing and comedic perfection. Recently, Osbourn High School revived the play in their production.

Far away in space and time is the land of Serendip—a magical kingdom ruled by Prince Deramo (Steven Field). The prince is desperately searching through female subjects for a woman to make his queen. He relies on a lie-detecting stone bust (Brandon Frowen) to eliminate women who do not truly love him. Like American Idol judge Simon Cowell on a particularly unrelenting power trip, Deramo goes through nearly three thousand ladies before settling on Angela (Maddy Thomas). Unfortunately for him, this decision enrages Tartaglia (Drew Binkley), whose daughter was passed over as queen. Tartaglia exacts his revenge after Deramo shows him how to take control of a dead animal’s body. Tartaglia tricks Deramo into a stag’s body and steals the king’s body, setting off an irresistibly griping chain of events.

Osbourn’s cast created an exciting dynamic, fueled by the believable performances of the many bizarre, uncultivated characters of the play. Sarah Barlow’s portrayal of the impossibly peculiar Smeraldina was pleasantly over-the-top and exhilarating. On the opposite end of the exuberance spectrum was Frowen as the magical bust. He expertly maintained the composure of a statue while incorporating subtle humanoid movements, thereby becoming a highly entertaining piece of art. Scott Meadows and Bryan Croson also contributed to the mystical madness as the palace guards. Field took on the role of the self-reflective, less self-indulgent Deramo, in a down-to-earth performance.

Set designers Monica Carlson and J.C. Nigh created the world of Serendip and the forest palace with a hint of surrealism. Coupled with various lighting effects, the stage became a convincing setting for the outlandish fairy tale. The intricate animal masks constructed by students Ben Binkley, Monica Carlson and Emily Nelson also helped carry the mood of the play.

Osbourn High School’s “King Stag” was a trophy animal full of mirthful moments, silly slapstick and a dose of magical realism, where the actors seemed to have as much fun as their audience.

By Keith Boylan, Posted by Mario Iván Oña  |  January 20, 2010; 1:57 AM ET
 | Tags: Cappies 2010  
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I have enjoyed many high school drama performances over the years and although I did not see 'King Stag' the review done Mr. Boylan gives a very vivid picture of the play. The photo of the set is very inventive and I am sure added to what sounds like an excellent production.
Thanks to the Washington Post for covering these educational endeavor of student in our Northern Virginia area.

Posted by: TheatreWatcher | January 20, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful review and fantastic photo! Kudos to the Post for renewing its support for the Cappies by publishing the articles by these student journalists.

Pam Roos
Washington, DC

Posted by: pamhonohan2000 | January 20, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Great review! Supporting high school theater in this time of tight budgets and limited funding for the arts is crucial. Please consider publishing these reviews in the paper as well as online.

Posted by: TheaterFan | January 21, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

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