All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
Chris Doan, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology , reviews “The Lady from Maxim’s” performed by West Springfield High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program .
Take a drunken night out, a couple of middle-class chaps, a catty ‘lady of the evening’, a heap of marital mishaps, and a vibrant performance of The Lady from Maxim’s graces the stage at West Springfield High School. Embroiled in a hodgepodge of misinformation and cover-ups, the hijinks of a certain doctor’s late night out enveloped the stage in a unique and vivacious performance of late 19th century France.
Written by Georges Feydeau at the end of the 19th century, La Dame de chez Maxim (translated to the Lady from Maxim’s) was an innovative observation of the French social culture. Upon waking up from a drunken night out, Dr. Lucien Petypon finds a lascivious lady clad in undergarments in his bed. Through his struggle to hide her from his wife, Dr. Petypon ends up with a series of complications far more complex than he bartered for.
Portraying the titular Lady from Maxim’s, Catherine Ariale provided an infectious vivacity to the stage as The Shrimp, shown through her impressive physicality with Forrest Browne (Dr. Lucien Petypon). Her teasing of the doctor, her showing of her knickers, and the couple’s pantomimed arguments demonstrated their remarkable characterization. Even alone, Ariale’s embodiment of The Shrimp was spot on—always energetic, yet socially graceless. As Dr. Petypon remarked, “every time she opens her mouth, she puts her foot in it!” From the brandishing of the first scarlet undergarment, the duo dominated the stage.
Tailing closely behind in the misadventure are Dr. Petypon’s best friend, Dr. Mongicourt (Shane Chase), and Petypon’s wife, Madame Gabrielle Petypon (Ellen Abood). As Dr. Petypon despaired of what to do with the wench, Chase’s sincere, yet mocking tones provided a gratifying display of schadenfreude. Whilst Mongicourt professed his wry complaints about the deception, Gabrielle presented an impressive display of a woefully ill-informed wife, bumbling about, crashing weddings, and even being divinely inspired by The Shrimp improvising as a bed sheet ghost. Another standout character was the General Petypon du Grele, played by Joshua Elliot, whose stolid logic leads him to further aggravate the already complicated situation. A stickler for the rules, his deadpan tones coupled with a remarkable repertoire of quips elicited a steady stream of laughter. West Springfield’s cast was bubbling with exuberant energy while always being in character.
Furthermore, the ambitious onstage setup was superb, with dynamic lighting and a two-stage set. The lighting was excellent throughout the show, bringing red and blue lighting to pare with the haunting episodes of Gabrielle. In addition, the set was impressive, exemplifying period accuracy with the tones used in the walls and bedroom—even the props and costumes were period accurate. Furthermore, the costumers (headed by Kelsey McPherson) outdid themselves with unique and time-accurate outfits for every unique character in the show. From courtesan outfits to military uniforms to ball gowns, the clothing always exemplified the part.
A unique romp of bedrooms and ballrooms, full of raunchy non-sequiturs and incredible comedic talent, West Springfield High School invoked the flighty attitude of Parisian life.