Not About Nightingales review

Madeline Smyser and Linnea Kennedy

Last Monday, the VHS theater department performed their UIL one-act play, Not About Nightingales, by Tennessee Williams. Set in the depression era, the play focuses on a group of inmates who go on a hunger strike in attempt to better their living conditions and receive better food. There is also a love story going on simultaneously, with the characters Eva (senior Halle Hill), the new secretary at the prison, and Jim (senior Colin Brown), an inmate who works for the warden and is attempting to get out on parole. The inspiration for the play came from Williams’ reading of newspaper accounts of prisoners who suffocated in a steam room in a Pennsylvania prison.

As can be discerned from the synopsis, the play definitely had some very dark and intense themes. However, we believe that this is partly why the play was so impressive. It is far more difficult to act in those kinds of scenes, rather than happy-go-lucky ones, where no real character depth is explored. So, while the play was somewhat shocking in its content, we were thoroughly amazed by the ability of the actors.

The leads (Halle Hill, Colin Brown, Jack Smith, and Brad Borman) all portrayed their characters wonderfully. You could tell that they had each spent a great deal of time getting to know their characters and played them with with such intensity that you almost forgot that what was happening was just a play.

Off stage, the tech crew also performed exceptionally. Set transitions, light cues, and sound effects were all seamless and smooth. Having a strong tech crew is essential for a superior play, and this team won the Outstanding Technical Crew award at UIL.

The cast went to UIL on Wednesday, and Not About Nightingales advance to region, where they performed again on Friday. Although they did not advance further, actress Halle Hill (Eva) was awarded an Honorable Mention.

Overall, Not About Nightingales was well-casted, well-rehearsed, and a great experience for audience members. We are so fortunate to have such a talented program at our school.