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Teen Critics: The Metromaniacs

The Teen Critic Program at Shakespeare Theatre Company allows high school students interested in theatre, journalism and/or critical writing the opportunity to learn how to view productions with a critical eye and write a savvy, persuasive theatre review. The Teen Critics attend each production, receive a press packet, preferred press seating and have the opportunity to meet with professional theatre critics from local newspapers before writing their own reviews. 

Here are some excerpts from their reviews of The Metromaniacs.

Roxy Fisher
, 10th grade, homeschool

The Metromaniacs is a one of a kind. An 18th centurMETROMANIACS_020y French farce written by Alexis Prion (La Métromanie), it has been newly adapted by David Ives. If you go in expecting a traditional play, you will be in for a surprise. The play spins around like a carousel. Overflowing with a colorful cast of characters and wildly exciting events, the plot line twists and turns the audience until they are dizzy with delight. And the entire play is in verse! Indeed, the word metromaniac means one addicted to writing in verse. The Metromaniac’s characters are in love with the wildly romantic stories of poetry. But it is more than that; they fantasize about the aspects of life that poetry idolizes. Even though the entire play takes place in a ballroom, the characters write poetry about perfectly fluffy sheep as a rustic ideal. Part of the charm of Metromaniacs is that it makes no pretenses to reality, nor do the characters themselves. They are exaggerations and they tower in their oddness, just like players in a ballad. The play is never serious, except in its playfulness. If you are in a somber mood, this one is not for you.

Grace Hodgman, 9th grade, Woodson High School

The performance starts out strong. The first actors emerge from a doorMETROMANIACS_074 near the audience instead of coming out from behind the curtain, and this divergence from the usual style of beginnings of other plays acts as hook, and commands attention. Once the actors are on the stage, they begin to speak in impressive quick-paced rhyming couplets. Then the curtain opens to a stage full of fake flat trees, painted in soft browns, greens, and pinks.

Ben Beriss, 10th grade, Montgomery Blair High School

The play is oddly reminiscent of Shakespeare, with mistaken identities and a full set of marriages at the end. The most striking similarity, however, is that Ives translated the play entirely in verse. Indeed, Ives went one step further, making the entire play rhyme, an action consistent with the original play. It is the rhyming which gives the METROMANIACS_196play distinctly ridiculous and it is this ridiculousness which the play runs with.

Norah AlJunaidi, 12th grade, Severna Park High School

My favorite part of the play was the dialogue and the jokes, which was a combination of modern day themes and references spoken in the old English language, and had me chuckling all throughout the production. The entire play was written in couplets, so the writer had to be very creative in making rhymes at some points which was really interesting and funny to me, and I wish I had written some of them down just to give them more thought. I loved paying attention to the way the words were written, and I would love to see the script used to study the language.

Shea Christian, 10th grade, Sidwell FriendsMETROMANIACS_119

If one thing can be said about the production, artistic director Michael Kahn certainly made it beautiful. From the moment the curtain raised, a pastel ballroom with a fake forest set the lighthearted tone. Both the set and the costumes were intricately detailed and colorful, reminiscent of the extravagant time period. The costumes were fun and bright, particularly the loud purple ensemble donned by the handsome but decidedly unintelligent Dorante (Anthony Roach) and the pink ball gown hiked up in front, worn by both Lucile (Amelia Pedlow) and her spunky maid, Lisette (Dina Thomas). Composed entirely of rhyming couplets, the language was a piece of art in itself and was impressively upheld thorough the entire program. The couplets drew in the poetic theme of the play, which was a nice touch.

Audrey Weber, 11th grade, School Without Walls

Besides the use of exquisite scenery, Metromaniacs features elaborate costumes, by Murell Horton, that transport the audience back to France in the earlMETROMANIACS_009y1700s. Although the costumes are dated to 18th century France, the production incorporates some more modern items such as Damis’s glasses, which surprisingly do not detract from the performance and in fact add to the ingenuity of the costume design. Lucille’s costume was especially fascinating with its ability to change as the character drastically changes her personality throughout the performance. Overall, the work of the artistic designers was flawless with their ability to capture the essence of 18th century France while staying connected to the modern era.

Nana Gongadze, 11th grade, H.B. Woodlawn

Murell Horton’s beautiful 18th century style costumes and the single, eye-catching set by James Noone are terrific nod to the play’s original era, a compliment to the intimate Lansburgh Theatre venue. Fitting with it is the show’s petite cast, each member bringing hilarity and a unique energy to their respective characters. Conn and Roach as Demis (aka Cosmo) and Dorante (aka Eraste) are a brilliant pair – the lovestruck but pragmatic poet and the clueless noble – everyone’s attempts to figure out just who is really who is the comedic crux of this play. Kahn’s direction makes this show very physical; the cast runs all around the stage, taking full advantage of its set-within-a-set design while delivering their speedy rhymes. This show simply never misses a beat.

Fast paced, quick witted, and delightfully funny, The Metromaniacs is the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s best so far this season – don’t miss this sharp as a tack production.

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