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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

“The Princess Bride” is exactly “as you wish”

Featuring senior Griffin Schroeder (Westley) and sophomore Shanti Appavoo (Buttercup) as the leads, “The Princess Bride” is a adaptation of a 1987 movie of the same name.

Sometimes, the best view of a play is from the ground. Not that I had a choice. The production had already sold out five shows, so as I took my spot on the floor on March 24 at 3:00 pm, I told myself that this had to be worth the discomfort. It’s not everyday you get to see a massively-hyped up school play of “The Princess Bride,” so sacrifices must be made.

In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t even that big of a concession to make. As a matter of fact, I would’ve dangled myself from the ceiling to watch the BHS Drama Society’s adaptation of the 1987 cult classic “The Princess Bride.” Running from March 20-24, the production was swashbuckling, soaring and all around spectacular.

Now, for those of us who haven’t watched or read “The Princess Bride” in quite a bit or at all (you heathens!), “The Princess Bride” isn’t your typical fantasy. The story is a pretty simple one: a kid (freshman Finn Friedman) is sick, and their grandfather (sophomore Derek Matos) reads them a novel to pass the time. The embedded narrative follows Buttercup (sophomore Shanti Appavoo), a fair maiden living on a farm in the fictional kingdom of Florin who does nothing but order around her farmboy Westley (senior Griffin Schroeder) until she falls head over heels in love with him. The star-crossed lovers are tragically separated after Westley is presumed murdered overseas but, after being abducted by outlaws Vizzini (sophomore Gray Conner-Jones), Fezzik (sophomore Eren Ergen) and Inigo Montoya (junior El O’Neil), the pair reunite and seek to overcome the obstacles in the way of their love.

It’s a tale as old as time and one that doesn’t disappoint. The cast was on their A-game, making a fantastical story believable as they lent humanity to their characters. Schroeder, with his long-ish blonde hair and easy smile, was perfectly cast as the charming and cunning Westley, and his chemistry with the defiant and passionate Buttercup made him easy to root for. Conner-Jones was comical as the bumbling villain Vizzini, making me laugh with every dramatic and misplaced “inconceivable!” Senior Nico Hart’s turn as Prince Humperdinck, infused with theatrical flair, made hating the pompous and egocentric villain fun.

Even characters with less stage time received top-notch performances. Freshman Sardoine Kapanga-Ndjibu was terrific as Valerie with her shrieks, hobbled gait and impressive affect, and I marveled at how utterly convincing the ninth-grader was as an elderly woman.

Of course, the flowers don’t only go to the cast. Like the dutiful (and reformed) theater kid I am, I have to acknowledge the incredible work that largely goes behind the scenes. Fight choreography, led by sophomore Ellie Tytell, was fluid and had me marveling at the actors’ agility (and wincing in sympathy for their knees). It was as if cast members also moonlighted in fencing. The way they swung around their foils with dramatic flair, running up and down the set for five minutes straight without missing a beat or stopping to catch a breath, was truly admirable. Certainly, whoever whipped them into shape did a job well done.

I’d be remiss to omit a shout-out to those in charge of costumes, props and the script. Everything was incredibly faithful to the original movie, off of which the production was based, save for a couple of tweaks (this time around, the Kid’s playing video games on a Nintendo Switch instead of a ‘80s era console.) All things considered, it was nothing I couldn’t appreciate. Costumes were ornate, and crowns glittered in dappled blue and yellow stage lights.

I was a particular fan of the set. Built by director Arika Nabutovksy’s Backstage: Power Tools and Special Effects and Design for the Stage classes, this gargantuan, wisteria-covered structure was built from scratch, an impressive feat. Featuring staircases, trap doors and regular doors alike, the set was half bedroom, half castle ruins, merging together the fantasy and real-life worlds of the story. In a similar vein, video clips shown through a projector in lieu of actors, say, tumbling or climbing up cliffs, made me chuckle. I found myself admiring at how the production transcended the physical limitations of the stage in order to tell a story as convincingly as possible.

Speaking of stories, I guess I massively underestimated the extent to which “The Princess Bride” still resonates with so many people, especially in today’s times. Walking into the theater, I was definitely intrigued by the rave reviews I had heard thus far, but being the cynic I am, I did wonder how a movie from the ‘80s or, hell, a book from the ‘70s, could still be relevant in 2024. Here, I admit fault: the implication that it wasn’t is downright disrespectful. The Performing Arts Department’s production of the “Princess Bride” managed to reinvigorate a timeless story, one that’ll have you begging to see it again and again and again. Well…as you wish.

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