Students write and star in “Curse Words” for statewide competition



Junior Maya Shavit, freshman Jesse Waters-Malone, freshman Flannery Poon, senior Joann Huang and junior Valentia Burlak (left to right) in a March 16 performance of “Curse Words.” “Curse Words” was written by students for a statewide performing arts competition.

When Elijah (senior Camryn Lezama) broke a bottle on someone’s head during a wild west fist fight, I knew that this play would be unforgettable.

“Curse Words” was written by students, with help from directors Mark Vanderzee and Mary Mastandrea, for the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild’s (METG) high school festival, a state-wide performing arts competition. Opening night was Wed. March 16.

The play follows a high school production of “Alice in Wonderland” put on in a cursed theater. Throughout history, every show put on in this theater has been shut down once the trigger phrase “get off your high horse” was spoken.

The show traveled through different time periods, each representing a different show gone wrong. The time changes were easy to follow due to the vibrant costumes and sets for each time period they explored. Although the transition music was a little confusing at times, the actors dancing out in a way that represented each era was an adorable way to make set changes so much more engaging for the audience. With its fun-filled, high energy scenes and witty jokes,“Curse Words” was a refreshing break from the stress of everyday life.

A highlight of the play was the friendship between Murph (senior Madhav Krishna) and Larry (sophomore Sean O’Halloran). They had such great scene chemistry, and their jokes were well-timed. I found the most adorable scene to be old Larry and Murph trying to replicate their handshake from when they were younger.

All of the characters’ relationships were incredibly well-established that I felt like I was just getting a peek into their lives. The actors breathed life into what otherwise could have been a stagnant group of characters. For the 40 minutes the show was on, I almost forgot that these were, in fact, my classmates, not performers battling with a century-old curse placed upon their theater.

It was wonderful to see how every actor had a moment to shine on stage despite having a cast of seventeen. Whether it be Bobby (sophomore Ian Hansen), who was such an over-the top and dramatic character that I couldn’t help but be drawn to watching him, or Sunshine (freshman Yulia Grigoryeva), the 70s hippie who captured the audience’s attention with her long hair, colorful clothes and hilarious lines, each character felt real and well-rounded.

Of course, it would be impossible to review this play without giving praise to the costumes. Now, I’m no fashion expert, but I think it’s safe to say that the design and execution of each performer’s outfit was on point. The well-defined styles helped distinguish between the play’s time jumps. The second I saw flared jeans and button-up shirts, I knew we were in the 1970s.

Although the show did not advance in the statewide competition, several students won METG awards for their notable contributions to the production. Senior Madhav Krishna won an All Star Acting Award for the role of “Mr. Murphy” and junior Valentia Burlak was awarded the same honor for the role of “Vivian.” Junior Agnes Shales received the Stage Manager’s Award.

While the play touched on issues of community and sharing the spotlight, it was able to do so without becoming overly cheesy. It was an amazing experience to watch a show about highschoolers going through everyday problems, especially with all of the negatives going on in the world right now.