at Sunny Hills

Reviewed on February 16, 2018

Santa Margarita Catholic
Orange County Register
St. Margaret's Episcopal
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La Habra
OC Cappies Facebook

Chloe Grubb
Santa Margarita Catholic

Submitted for publication to Orange County Register

Future Meets Past in Sunny Hills's "1984"
written by Chloe Grubb, a junior at Santa Margarita Catholic High School

A dreary, yellow light cascades onto a broken man, clutching his legs and rocking slowly as he aches to remain sane while his life crashes around him. Eyes shut tight, he slowly chants, "two and two make four," reverberating a call to simpler times during the chaos of "1984."

Sunny Hills's ‘1984' tells the poignant tale of Winston and Julia, two lovers who anguish for justice once the truth is separated from the past. When the two rebel against the current autocratic state, both are compromised and face internal betrayal as their deepest fears materialize.

Pacing about while anxiously rubbing his hands together, Winston (Josh Acosta) encapsulates the principal fear of authority for all civilians within ‘1984'. But once he meets Julia, Winston's world visibly changes, as he confidently places his arm around her and affirms his love in a direct, resonant tone.

Julia (Rachel Kim) offers a refreshing contrast to the palpable anxiety coursing through the harsh, dystopian environment. Speaking quietly in a guarded tone, Julia exudes composure as she strides about with disciplined posture, only subtly rebelling with disapproving frowns at the surrounding cameras.

Parsons (Celine Generette) epitomizes the rise and fall of authority with her dramatic transition from a woman with conviction to a fearful girl. Initially stamping about, Parsons smirks, mocks, and sneers at all ‘less virtuous' characters. But when her fate changes, Parsons falls to the ground in a terrified state, grabbing Winston and furrowing her brows as she begs for sweet mercy.

The student direction by Priscilla Canadas oozes creativity and meticulous planning. Her choice to train stage crew members as actors is nothing less of genius. The stage crew becomes part of the production as they hurriedly gather set pieces, fearing the guards while they make successful scene transitions. The crew's acting continues to show the sense of urgency pervading in "1984" and substantiates for extra time needed for large stage conversions.

The set design by Diego Cano and Ryan Mercer heralds similar skill with the strategic usage of paint scumbling techniques to achieve a distressed, forgotten look for the play. Using minimalistic furnishings, walls, and columns, the set functions as a ‘forgotten world' and an open canvas for scene changes within the stationary set.

Sunny Hills's "1984" presents an immersive environment with its sincere acting, careful design, and inspired directing.

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Alexis Fintland
St. Margaret's Episcopal

Submitted for publication to OC Cappies Facebook

Sunny Hills' "1984" Will Leave You Wanting More
written by Alexis Fintland, a senior at St. Margaret's Episcopal School

Sunny Hills High School's production of "1984" is set in the dystopian world of Oceania, a society plagued by war, oppression, and government surveillance under the party's tyrannic leader Big Brother. This show tells of the consequences that befall a young couple determined to resist the chains of a totalitarian regime that has overtaken their very own way of life.

Josh Acosta as Winston is an anxious worker of the Ministry of Truth, often pacing slowly and rubbing his hands together when confronted with opportunities to rebel against Big Brother. Acosta's transition into a broken, defeated man is made evident after delivering a powerful monologue during his imprisonment, where Winston is tortured by the government until he learns to love and accept Big Brother.

Julia played by Rachel Kim is a sharp contrast to love interest Winston with her naive, carefree temperament. However, Kim's transformation into a blank, emotionless shell of a person is a heart-wrenching moment after being tortured by the government for her relationship with Winston.

Aly Gonzalez asserts a powerful presence as O'Brien, a respected member of the Inner Party. Gonzalez's ability to deliver lines at her own pace while maintaining a cold glare as she barks orders demonstrate her role as an authoritative figure on stage.

Working alongside Winston at the Ministry of Truth, Parsons (Celine Generette) and Syme (Catherine Bunts) are both highly devoted members of the Big Brother party. Generette particularly excels in conveying Parson's know-it-all demeanor with her proud posture and raised brows.

Integrating with the cast's powerful performance is Sunny Hills' fluid execution of technical elements. Student director Priscilla Canadas makes a unique decision to incorporate tech into scene changes, making each transition exciting and suspenseful as guards bombard the stage holding weapons while vigilantly watching crew members. Set design executed by Diego Cano and Ryan Mercer accurately depicts a dystopian society with its minimalistic design and abundance of security cameras, while still portraying meaningful Big Brother slogans such as "Freedom is Slavery" across the walls of the theater.

The cast and crew of Sunny Hills' "1984" come together to deliver a powerful message condemning the tyranny of totalitarian regimes while portraying the ferocity and inner-strength that it takes to fight one.

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Jake Rhode
La Habra

Submitted for publication to OC Cappies Facebook

‘1984' at Sunny Hills is a doubleplusgood unfailure
written by Jake Rhode, a senior at La Habra High School

Sunny Hills High School's cast of talented comrades delivers a thoughtful performance of "1984," proclaiming that with the loss of independence comes a loss of love.

In a dystopian world defined by control and obedience, two forsaken lovers must draw life and strength from each other in order to restore light to a world of darkness. Their struggle against the all-knowing Big Brother involves the risk of losing their own humanity in the pursuit of restoring liberty to those around them.

Josh Acosta, as Winston, is at the center of this battle. He undergoes a miraculously authentic transformation from a hopeful rebel into a broken shell of a man. Acosta embodies this terrifying process center stage, writhing in pain and screaming at the top of his lungs in a fit of tangible misery. The entire space pulsing with his electrifying energy, his sobs vanish as his completely new character emerges; he is reduced to uncontrolled twitches and nervous glances as his voice is lost to his own betrayal.

The counterpart to Acosta's tragic hero is skillfully played by Rachel Kim. Her portrayal of Julia provides a refreshing contrast to the sharp darkness of the plot through her soft grace and melodious voice. As she floats across the stage with a light smile in her eyes, hope is restored to their weary world for a blissful moment. It is through Kim's development of a gentle kindness that the looming sorrow is illustrated with intensity.

Aly Gonzalez adds another layer of emotional complexity in her confident portrayal of the antagonist O'Brien. Her power demands attention as her suave strides across the stage overpower Acosta's terrified pleading. She turns up her chin and speaks with authority, exuding strength as she orders the ominously intimidating Ben Woehrer, who plays the Second Guard, to begin the torture.

Diego Cano and Ryan Mercer have created a set that changes with the emotions of the characters. It consists of weary walls and distressed pieces of furniture, taking on a broken character of its own. It becomes faintly elegant as Kim's voice echoes through it only to harshly darken into a shadowy prison as Gonzalez and Woehrer seize the stage.

Sunny Hills' passionate ensemble tells the somber tale of "1984" with a series of powerful moments that together encourage the fight for love despite the threat of hopelessness.

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