Private School is a patient show, its five young cast members holding their fire on each line until they see the whites of their opponents’ knee-highs. That gives the production a compelling texture, but unfortunately in the tight space of a Fringe slot the plot just doesn’t have enough time to build the characters these dedicated actors inhabit.
Much of the show—written and directed by Dylan Lamb via commission by the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield—is set in a girls’ bathroom at the eponymous institution. There, Selma (Amy Stockhaus) holds court, alternately taking confidences and slinging arrows. Among her targets are newspaper editor Ester (Pegeen Lamb) and awkward outsider Rachel (Keilly McQuail), who has a secret it doesn’t take anyone in the school or the audience very long to guess. The girls’ male foils are star student Jack (Nick Lehane) and Philip Behringer doing double duty as the freaky Zeke and the studly Brandon.
At two or three times the length, this show could really sting. As it is, though, the scenes tumble end over end towards the climactic scene the show needs to build to before the buzzer sounds. Lamb is simply trying to do too much here; notably, we don’t learn enough about Ester’s character to know how we’re supposed to feel when she gets her comeuppance. Nor does Rachel get enough texture to support the impressive weight that McQuail throws into her big monologue. The manipulative Selma is established much more efficiently, and Stockhaus’s icy comic timing helps to quickly establish her as one of this year’s Fringe characters you’re most likely to love to hate.
Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.