Hip Shot: Urban Legends
Saturday, July 20, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, July 24, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 28, 2:15 p.m.
They Say: "Urban Legends is a slightly warped tale that loves to celebrate crazy contemporary legends. Student written and performed, the play focuses on a series of stories that will make your skin crawl and think twice about turning off the lights."
Brett's Take: Frankly, I feel awkward writing a review for this show, put on by the Beyond the Page troupe of West Potomac High School students, and that probably says most of what you need to know. Lumina Studio Theatre, to make a perhaps unfair comparison, is proving with Fireball XL that teenaged actors are capable of delivering a whiz-bang theater production; Urban Legends is a reminder of the obvious fact that high school students will, most of the time, put on the kind of show an adult would expect from high school students.
The students themselves wrote five full dramatizations of classic urban legends, as well as another 10 or so storytelling monologues relating yet more. Rotating Rod Serling-like hosts keep up the atmosphere and move us from one unconnected scene to the next. You know some of these tales already, like the one that ends with the hook on the car door, while others are unfamiliar. Some of the individual pieces, such as "The Black Eyed Children," are cleverly written, and at least a few fellow audience members were audibly spooked by the twistiest conclusions.
At times, the young actors are visibly nervous and stumble over their words, but when they remember that they got this and go for it, they acquit themselves well. And hey—if we are going to hear these old stories, it certainly makes the most sense hearing it from people young enough to play the standard teen victims. A shockingly vulgar and perhaps too-honest take on a college party story is the weird standout—it's a tad uncomfortable for us old farts to watch 16-year olds play at getting drunk and hooking up, but I suppose our delusions about The Kids Nowadays can use a little puncturing now and then. Knowing that some things never change and are never lost—like the Bloody Mary story—is a pleasant lesson in and of itself.
It's awesome and laudable for the company to step out to the Fringe and in front of the ticket-buying public with this original work, but the fact remains—a $17 dollar show is a $17 dollar show. I look forward to seeing what each of these students do with their natural writing and acting skills as they continue to learn and get out into the world.
See it if: You thought urban legends ceased to exist when they stopped appearing in your inbox.
Skip it if: You don't want to be in the awkward position of watching young, inexperienced people being young and inexperienced.