A Grim comedy

Published 10:35 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lakeland High drama club members will perform “Cheating Death” in the region-wide theater competition at King’s Fork High Saturday, and at their own school on Friday. Here, the Lakeland students practice getting into character.

Districtwide competition being held at KFHS

Students from Suffolk high schools are gearing up to strut their stuff on the stage for the Virginia High School League Theater Festival.

The district-wide one-act play competition will be held at King’s Fork High School on Saturday.

At least 10 schools are taking part, Lakeland High teacher Gail Barker wrote in an email. The competition, open to the public, begins at 9 a.m.

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“The play is a dark comedy about residents of a mental institution facing the impending death of one of their friends,” Barker said of Lakeland’s play, “Cheating Death,” written by Kamron Klitgaard.

“It’s very funny, actually. The Grim Reaper, played by Wynter Brown, comes to claim one of the residents, and discovers a challenge in taking the person.

“The whole point is the other residents trick him. He (the Grim Reaper) doesn’t know which one is Sam Johnson (the departed mental patient). Everybody claims to be Sam Johnson, because they want to protect their friend.

“All of them have to overcome their own challenges and their own frailties, but in the end it’s a heat-warming and charming story.”

Lakeland’s production involves about 16 students, including five crew members. Seven will perform the play for free in the school auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Her drama students have been rehearsing since the end of October, Barker said, adding, “It has been inspiring to have the opportunity to get to know the kids and bring out the best in them in this performance.”

Lakeland will be first on stage for the competition, she said. “We’re excited about it,” she added. “There will be high schools from all around the region competing, and it’s a wonderful day.”

The play features some interesting characters. Laura Thornton, a Lakeland senior, is playing Deb. “She’s a dreamer and a wisher and, according to the doctor, she has an unhealthy obsession with blood,” Thornton said.

“It’s one of the smaller parts of the play, but I don’t mind it, because I get to have more character development.”

Playing the character Anne is junior Rebecca Howell. “It brought up the other side of me, I guess you could say,” Howell commented. “It’s fun to play outside your bubble.”

Matthew Miller, another senior, is rendering the character of Bob. “He’s kind of like an inventor,” Miller said of Bob. “He’s always coming up with amazing ideas, which might or might not work if he had the resources to try them.”