The Curious Savage by Unionville High School in Kennett Square, PA
November 15, 2018
Review submitted by Allegra Greenawalt of Harriton High School
When it comes to sanity, things may not be as black and white as they seem. Unionville High School’s compelling production of The Curious Savage challenged the notion that one’s state of mind is perhaps all a matter of judgement and perception.
Written in 1950 by John Patrick, The Curious Savage tells the story of the recently widowed Ethel Savage, whose large inheritance results in her placement into a sanatorium by her own greedy children. While there, she meets a variety of quirky new neighbors, and slowly begins to question whether her own family is any saner than the supposed misfits.
Unionville’s cast cleverly balanced both humor and heart, not only creating a laughable comedy but allowing the audience to connect to the very human sides of the eccentric characters as well. Perhaps the most impressive part of the production was the incredible group dynamic between the eleven actors onstage. Their evident chemistry and understanding of each other made the performance extremely authentic.
At the heart of the show was Grace Willey as the blue-haired Mrs. Ethel Savage. Willey’s constant witty remarks and wide range of expressions allowed her to easily embody her titular character. With her endearing hi-jinx and mischievous actions, she truly tied the cast together.
Portraying her fellow sanatorium patients, Meghan McCloskey (Florence), Soren Sheckells (Hannibal), Rachel Tierney (Fairy May), Zachary Cannon (Jeffrey), and Jenny Ammon (Mrs. Paddy) delighted the audience with their amusing quirks and strong commitment to character. Tierney in particular stole the show, her exuberant antics and impeccable comedic timing generated uproarious laughter from the audience.
Unionville’s production was technically stunning. The intricate set design by Jack Landolt, Daniel Dembek, and Haley Crawford greatly enhanced the experience of the performance, complete with a chandelier, piano, and plethora of wall decorations. Additionally, Ryan Meehan and Evan Vaughn’s sound design was especially impressive. It was nearly flawless in execution, which is almost unheard of in a high school environment.
Whether categorized as “sane” or not, it is our differences that give us a sense of individuality. Thought-provoking and unconventional, Unionville High School’s production of The Curious Savage uncovered the necessity of originality in an increasingly uniform and materialistic world.
Review submitted by Aiden Kaliner of Harriton High School
Love can be expressed in many ways, but most would think only the crazy to declare love as “take an umbrella, it’s raining.” The exquisite production of The Curious Savage at Unionville High School questioned the outside world, and who is actually crazy today.
The Curious Savage, originally written by John Patrick in 1950, tells the story of recently widowed Mrs. Ethel Savage. To ensure the money she inherited from her late husband does not fall into the wrong hands, Mrs. Savage’s stepchildren admit her to a nearby sanatorium. There, she finds her true family of misfits and ultimately examines the sanity of “normal people”, her stepchildren, and how it correlates to greed.
Unionville’s production featured a strong ensemble and group dynamic, namely from the sanatorium patients. They possessed a variety of quirks and insecurities, allowing for each character to be themselves with brilliant acting choices. Yet, with the challenge of individualism at hand, they all functioned and worked together cleverly to create a successful environment to compare themselves with the Savage children in the end.
Leading the cast, Grace Willey as Mrs. Ethel Savage committed to her role throughout the entire performance. Through her sophisticated acting abilities, she was able to convey the two-faced role flawlessly. While acting as a lovable and affectionate parental role to the patients in the sanatorium, she was able to immediately flip to a cunning and a sarcastic character once her children entered on stage.
Shining with excitement and laughable energy was Rachel Tierney as Fairy May. She played the innocent and entertaining part from head to toe with such ease, making every joke she relayed extremely comical. Portraying a character with extreme post-traumatic stress disorder and insecurities is extremely difficult, but Zack Cannon as Jeffrey was very believable. For the whole show, Cannon was able to hold his hand against his face to convince the audience about his metaphorical scar.
The sound effects and microphones operated throughout the show were exceedingly professional. The sound system was controlled perfectly with very few imperfections during the performance. Additionally, the set was extremely intricate and colorful. Even with a few minor mishaps, it effectively created the environment of the safe and “normal” home.
Even through extreme comedy, Unionville High School’s production of The Curious Savage strived for audiences to understand that sanity has many different perspectives and family is worth more than any amount of money.