Theatre Information

Francis Howell High School Elephant’s Graveyard

By • Feb 12th, 2013 • Category: Cappies, Missouri

They prompted the execution furiously. They anticipated it gleefully. They watched it expectantly. But it was all in vain. In the end, killing an elephant was not as straightforward as the citizens of Erwin believed, as Francis Howell proved in their production of Elephant’s Graveyard.

Based on a true story, George Brant’s heartbreaking drama relates the fate of Mary, an elephant sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of one of her handlers. The event unfolds with brief, impactful monologues that reflect the various perspectives of Erwin’s unforgiving community. Through the eyes of each character, the audience is granted a complete vision of the town and tragedy surrounding the elephant’s death.

After a slightly timid beginning, Francis Howell’s cast demonstrated their incredible talent by conquering the challenges presented by such a unique script. Since there is so little direct character interaction, each actor and actress had to maintain the same rhythm as their peers in order to prevent an isolated or disconnected feeling from overpowering the fact that each monologue was part of the whole story. A few notable examples of success were Mikayla Sherfy (Muddy Townsperson), Katie Angeli (Clown), and Aurielle Macchi (Tour Manager). These actresses did an exceptional job of going above and beyond with their delivery, adding another dimension to their already complex lines and further enhancing the emotional aspect of the performance. Sherfy’s intense mood contrasted well with the vivacious yet thoughtful humor of Angeli and sharp yet sensitive remarks of Macchi. Additionally, Justin Miller (Steam Shovel Operator) gave a brief, yet particularly effective speech that demanded a few moments of appreciation.

As a whole, the cast indicated a remarkable level of maturity with their performance. Each role was embraced and developed thoroughly, a factor that increased the play’s believability and impact. Also reflecting the school’s talent was its students’ impressive ability to remain in character throughout the entire show. When an individual took center stage, the remaining cast continued to respond and interact with their environment as their characters would. Attention to details such as these enhanced the quality of the performance and allowed it to have a greater emotional impact.

The show’s technical aspects reflected careful thought and preparation on the part of the various crews. The set’s simplicity was effective, enabling the performers to command the stage rather than be overpowered by it. Lighting and sound were well done, with minor, negligible errors. The music that accompanied some scenes was, at times, distracting, but otherwise well-paced and appropriate, establishing a mood in otherwise slow moments. Altogether, the technical portion of the show allowed it to flow as smoothly as it did.

Witnessing the product of such a talented cast and crew made it difficult to remain dry-eyed during the play’s intense climax and conclusion as each character responded to and questioned Mary’s tragic death. Francis Howell’s production of Elephant’s Graveyard was an emotional, impactful, and memorable performance.

by Meghan Edwards of Holt High School

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