“Freak Show,” an original play featuring eighth-graders from Diamond Middle School, ushers the audience into the minds of middle-schoolers — a trip that turns out to be as scary, and perhaps a little more perceptive, than one might expect.
“Like the opening line, it’s definitely true: middle school is the most absurd environment imaginable,” said Spencer Hobbs, a member of the cast. “The real world is scary, but middle school isn’t much better.”
From bullying to the invisible boy to a young gamer who goes so deep into his fantasy world that his parents are encouraged that he at least has Facebook friends, the skits provide smart yet ridiculous social commentary that aptly parallels the craziness of middle school life with a carnival – a “Freak Show,” if you will.
The most overscheduled boy in the world is cast as a strongman, holding heaping piles of responsibility where dumbbells would be. A girl kicked out of the cool clique for forgetting to abide by her fickle friends’ “boot Wednesdays” schedule.
It’s all about the stresses middle-schoolers feel on a daily basis, according to the cast, who came up with the play’s framework through improv exercises later strung together by drama teacher Kate Bromley.
Some of the scenes and situations are exaggerated, yes, but they’re also something most anyone should be able to relate to, the students said.
“Even though it’s exaggerated, there is some truth to it,” said cast member Rachel Kahn. “There’s a lot of truth to it.”
Speaking as a group after a Wednesday afternoon rehearsal, the cast of more than a dozen Diamond eighth-graders explained that they hope the play provides a chance for their fellow classmates, siblings and parents to look at their lives in another context.
“I think there are some aspects of the show that people of any age can relate to,” said Michael Frank, a member of the cast.
According to Bromley, she tried to keep the script true to the words of the student cast, but she did make it into theatre. “I wanted to give them an outlet to express their thoughts and feelings, and what’s going on with them,” she said.
The production has been in the works since late March, with the cast meeting for three hours on Tuesday afternoons.
Tomorrow’s 4 p.m. performance will be the premiere of “Freak Show,” with the cast being joined by the Diamond Jazz Band for the 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $2 for 4 p.m. premiere and $5 for the 7 p.m.