Zap. I thought it was an electric car. It’s a play, bits and pieces that are braided together with audience participation.
Vashon High School’s Theater Arts II class is presenting “Zap,” an eclectic surf-the-Web sort of play written by Paul Fleischman that draws upon the work of six great playwrights — William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Samuel Beckett, Agatha Christie, Tennessee Williams and Neil Simon.
Six styles, seven plays and an audience brandishing electrical zappers, enabling us — should we get bored, irritated or displeased or just desire some fun — to zap these thespians with a wee click of our TV-style remote control and force them to shift scenes. The hand-held devices were given to us at the beginning of the evening.
Several people with whom I chatted assumed they were only props. I, on the other hand, checked it out. It had batteries. I went for it, and it proved to be a delightful little power trip.
With each zap, a loud, somewhat irritating beep would echo through the theater, the stage would go black, and moments later the thespians would reappear in a new scene by a different playwright.
As we wandered through pseudo-Shakespeare and Simon, Chekhov and Christie, we were treated to some lovely moments. In the Williams play, Becky Snyder made a spectacular entrance. She spoke not a word but her abundant hair and obvious hangover spoke volumes.
The “Waiting for Godot” piece had Mica Gaxiola playing Sarah Palin with a dead-on accent as she waited eternally in the present for the future, an apt metaphor for the political campaign that just ended and a great theatrical choice.
Meme Garcia-Cosgrove captured us in her Chekhovian way with her vast boredom as she rolled her eyes at an aging relative.
The same set served seven scenes and thus offered up some amusing anachronisms, most notably, Richard III’s temper tantrum involving the telephone. He chucked it off stage in a fit of pique. Nothing would interrupt his royal angst.
Unfortunately, it was often hard to hear these young thespians, and thus their talents were sometimes lost on the audience.
The one consistent exception was Callison Ott. I heard every word she said. Her presence was electric and edgy. Anna Smith, Kelly Ferguson and Calin Winn also spoke well, inviting us through the fourth wall, into their world.
All in all this can be a fun show, just sit in the front row.
— Elizabeth Nye is a conductor, singer and teacher and a long-time Islander.