HHS Drama Club Tackles “Dark Road”

A+guard+%28played+by+Steven+Reis%29+prepares+to+hang+Greta+%28played+by+Shea+Kushnir%29+for+her+crimes+against+humanity.
A guard (played by Steven Reis) prepares to hang Greta (played by Shea Kushnir) for her crimes against humanity.

A guard (played by Steven Reis) prepares to hang Greta (played by Shea Kushnir) for her crimes against humanity.

Will Sutton

Will Sutton

A guard (played by Steven Reis) prepares to hang Greta (played by Shea Kushnir) for her crimes against humanity.

Will Sutton, Photography Editor

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Though Hingham High’s curriculum allows for ample discussion of the horrors of the Holocaust, it seems our world has forgotten the danger of antisemitism and hate. As of March 1, a Polish law effectively outlawed acknowledgement of the country’s role in the Holocaust, as reported by PBS. After protests in Charlottesville in August turned violent, President Donald J. Trump defended the crowd of Neo-nazis and white nationalists by saying they included “some very fine people”; another stark reminder that some of our world leaders no longer acknowledge the despicable nature of Nazism.

Considering the circumstances, it seems appropriate that the Hingham High Drama Club chose to focus on the Holocaust for their winter production. Every year, the club participates in the METG High School Festival, in which high schools across the state present one-act plays, competing to advance through preliminary, semifinal, and final rounds.

As mentioned above, this years’ production was centered around the atrocities within Nazi concentration camps during WWII. Dark Road, written by Laura Lundgren Smith, focuses on Greta, a female guard at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp who is about to be executed for war crimes. Smith employs flashbacks to expose Greta’s indoctrination into Nazism and reflect on human beings’ capacity for evil.

The playwright cleverly weaves the dialogue of the flashbacks into Lise’s conversation with a journalist, cleanly marrying her past and present. But make no mistake: the strength of Hingham’s production was not in the script. Smith’s writing was not particularly subtle, and her meaning unclear until it was blatantly stated in the final minutes of the show.

But Smith’s script did not detract from the power of the performance. After the club presented the show to the school during an X Block assembly, the student consensus was clear. Junior Caroline Johannes summed up the general mood when she explained, “That was insanely moving.”

The strength of the show, therefore, was in the performances of the students, the powerful direction, and the world created onstage. Under director Anita Levy-Sisk, the student actors accomplished feats of storytelling.

Senior Shea Kushnir elevated the character of Greta, focusing upon her fleeting moments of guilt with a nuance that makes her final acceptance of evil all the more heartbreaking. Senior Greta Eustace fed off of of Kushnir’s energy in her portrayal of Lise, the sister of the character of Greta. The pair perfectly captured the bond of sisterhood; “They touched such a nerve,” reflected Junior Kate Falvey.

Freshman Benton Perry presented an equally moving performance as Daimler, the journalist interviewing Greta whom, unbeknownst to his subject, labored in Auschwitz as a political prisoner. For most of the play, Perry gives a stifled performance, inspiring the sense that his character is struggling to remain composed. When he finally explodes with rage at Greta, the result is both chilling and striking.

The supporting cast was equally talented, and the lighting, sound, costumes, makeup, and flexible yet tangible set combined to form a potent production. Before the competition, audience members of Hingham High seemed optimistic of Dark Road’s chances of advancing beyond preliminaries; “If they don’t move on, I don’t know who will,” Junior Caroline Johannes boldly predicted.

Unfortunately, the drama club placed behind Joseph Case, Nauset, and Sacred Heart High Schools in Saturday’s competition at Joseph Case High School. Only the top 3 shows can advance, so this year’s competition season is over for Hingham High drama.

While it was certainly disheartening to stop at preliminaries for the second year in a row, the club deserves applause for tackling such heavy subject matter in a graceful manner. Senior Andre Lavoie, who played a German commandant, was proud of the production regardless of the outcome: “I think with taking on a show that’s so heavy with intense and depressing themes opens up great opportunities for us actors,” he explained.

It may not have resulted in a victory in the METG competition, but Hingham High drama club’s honest, dynamic, and powerful reminder of the Holocaust was a victory in a world that needs reminding.

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