By Aaron Evans
Senior Features Writer
“STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!” screams an ensemble cast dressed in black as they hover over Celia (played by sophomore, Haley Hulett). She screams for them to stop as she buries her head in her hands, unable to forget the taunting words thrown at her each day at school. The voices quiet, and for moment, the Greathouse Theatre is still, not even the sound of audience members shifting in their seats could be heard. The audience members’ hearts twist as Celia crumbles beneath the voices of her classmates—this type of torment is all to familiar. Some likely saw themselves in that chair as mocking voices shouted into Celia’s ear.
It was these moments that made “Hush Little Celia” a potential picture of a powerful reality. But as the lights went up and audience members shuffled through the aisle, I couldn’t help but feel confused as I thought about what I had just watched. Was this a psychological drama? A romance? Or was it comedy? The odd blend of these three elements made enjoying this play a challenge.
First, let me say that the acting in this play couldn’t have been better. Haley Hulett did an amazing job of capturing the wounded-bird nature of Celia, the female lead, and Matt Winters as Todd, the male lead, played the role so naturally that I had to remind myself that Matt wasn’t playing himself.
The ensemble really carried the show, with strong performances by Will Summay and Macy Graham. Across the board, the actors in this play couldn’t have been more natural. It all felt very real, and plot line aside, just watching these actors perform was worth my time.
However, the long strings of comedic relief seemed to clash with the intense, psychological nature this play carried. The opening scene begins with the ensemble cast singing a chilling acapella version “Hush Little Baby” under dim blue lights, which continues throughout the play.
At several moments the ensemble cast acted as Todd and Celia’s inner voice, which contributes to the psychological aspect of this play, not to mention that the two main characters both see psychiatrists.
But after these short bursts of intense moments looking into Todd and Celia’s damaged lives, long scenes of classroom comedy would inevitably follow, overpowering what made this play so gripping. I found myself longing for those moments of looking into Celia and Todd’s life, rather than long strings of comedic relief. Had the comedy been less, this play could have been ten times more powerful.
Overall, this play was not bad. I still enjoyed the comedic scenes, even if they often seemed necessary. The romance between Todd and Celia had its charming moments, and gave the audience the happy ending we wanted as the two sat together, hands interlocked after nervously auditioning for Romeo and Juliet in the school play.
This romantic ending gave Celia’s situation hope as she finally conquered her fears and auditioned for the school play, all the while winning the heart of the boy she had admired since kindergarten. She finally felt wanted by someone, and that alone really redeemed this play, regardless of the rather shaky plot-line and unclear genre.