Review: “Virtual School Problems” at Riverside High School

By Ivy Ridenhour, Freedom High School

School can be a lot, whether it’s class, going to detention or doing a play, there is so much going on. Everyone has their own problems and gets involved in the problems of others. Riverside High School’s production of Virtual School Problems shows us that and shows us that making things virtual only makes them more messy, confusing and entertaining.

Virtual School Problems is a performance composed of two pieces written by students. “Detention” was written by Theater I students: Beckett Rice, Arjun Dawar, Andrienne Papalabrakopoulos and Grace Taylor. It portrays a detention room full of drama and gossip. “End This Meet” was written by Theater IV students: Aenea Bayliss and Rachel Bunch. It told the story of a group of students preparing a play for the class to be presented later that night.

Both shows had well-written characters with a variety of fun personalities and intriguing storylines. The writing of “End this Meet” was especially fun with asides and pauses on the fourth wall that kept the audience on the edge of their seats to watch for the next cool moment.

Both of these shows were ensemble pieces, and with so many actors, it can be difficult to identify any recognizable characters. Without a clear track, it’s less clear where the audience should focus and it can be easy to miss characters. However, well-done character relationships can help “pin” characters and allow audiences to see the full range of personalities.

In “Detention,” one of those relationships was the dynamic between Madison and Travis, played by Isabelle Simond and Arjun Dawar. The two were bold and clear characters on their own, but together they’ve formed a popular duo with just enough hype to be entertaining but feel real.

In “End This Meet”, Caitlin Pancia played Alicia, a girl a little too confident. Arzoris Perez Rodriquez played Candice, a distracted teenager. Their performances were quite interesting in themselves, but together they created an interesting rivalry that added a lot to the show.

One character that really stood out was Mr. Roberts, played by Arman Jaiswal. Mr. Roberts was a teacher in “detention” who watched over the students, or at least he was supposed to. Instead, he spent the time meditating and dancing; his antics and his attitude made him an extraordinary character from his very first line.

Overall, Riverside High School’s Virtual School Problems was an accessible show for anyone who dealt with group projects, from high school theater and, of course, virtual school.

[This review of the April 30performance at Riverside High School is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now andThe Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]

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Perry A. Thomasson