All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
Sophie Buono, a student at Oakcrest School , reviews “Don’t Count on Forever” performed by Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology as a part of the Cappies Critics and Awards Program.
The lights rose, and the small yet comfortable living room came into focus. Lisa knelt in a corner, eagerly planning her speech for graduation. Her mother Joan curled up on the couch with a book, awaiting her husband’s return from a union meeting. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s Don’t Count on Forever would soon proceed to reveal the disaster and pain that would entangle Lisa and her family.
Don’t Count on Forever was written by Nancy Gilsenan in 1983. The plot centers on Lisa, an almost-graduate of high school and the editor-in-chief of the school yearbook. Bold, polished, and widely optimistic, Lisa looks to her future with confidence—until her parents’ relationship spirals downward. She finds herself forced to bear the confusion and pain of a shocking situation, which ultimately alters her outlook on the world.
Thomas Jefferson’s production showcased strong acting to bring genuine relationships to life. The simple yet practical set pieces, the characteristically 80s outfits, and the characters themselves helped illustrate Lisa’s high school and home life with skillful credibility. Emily Kelly’s portrayal of Lisa revealed a clear transformation from naïve buoyancy to dejected confusion. Her gestures and facial expressions delivered personality and emotion with strong proficiency. Her boyfriend Teddy, played by Gavin Moore, assumed a persona of endearing awkwardness, which strove to comfort and encourage Lisa in her plight. Lisa’s mother Joan (Jordan Goodson) tugged at the audience’s heart stings as she cried quietly after fiercely arguing with her disillusioned husband Frank (Zach Moser), whose words and movements also communicated tension.
While Don’t Count on Forever contains a predominantly tragic plot, Lisa’s yearbook staff consistently provided comic relief. Marilyn (Yena Seo) procured the audience’s laughter with particular ease, from her sauntering gait and attitude to her over-the-top obsession with her many pocketed photographers vest. Her squabbles with the jock Bill (Anthony Carrington) further colored the stage with liveliness and hilarity. In addition, Frank’s new love interest, Elaine (Kira Becker), projected spot-on innocence and ignorance in the few key moments she came onstage. While some characters fell short in enthusiasm during the scenes of greater intensity, overall they demonstrated impressive acting that won the audience’s sympathy and approval.
Each character’s makeup and costume accurately portrayed his or her age and personality. Marilyn’s bold eyeliner contrasted with Lisa’s softer look, and Joan’s pulled back hair and apron lent her an air of industriousness and fatigue. Despite the lack of microphones in the production, the performers remained audible throughout most of the show, though there were some moments in which lines did not carry through. To avoid long scene changes, the stage featured Lisa’s home on one end and her yearbook staff’s room on the other. This helped carry the plot along smoothly and without major interruption.
Firmly woven together with believable set pieces, costumes, and characters, Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology’s Don’t Count on Forever successfully drew the audience into a lesser known show, delivering its clear-cut and resonating message about coping with the realities of life—both pleasurable and painful.