An incredible opportunity for young actors, writers, and theater lovers alike, 14/48: High School produced a menagerie of entertaining plays; however, one of the funniest and most memorable featured a family, witchcraft, and young love.
Founded in 1997, 14/48 is a Seattle based theatre festival in which fourteen shows are written and performed over a period of 48 hours. Three years ago, the festival was adapted for high school students. This modified program is run entirely by teens in the Seattle area and produces seven original plays in 24 hours.
“I am a Pear,” written by Mercury Sunderland and directed by Joe Moore, begins on a special occasion: a family is meeting their son Kieran’s boyfriend Danny for the first time over dinner. The play begins as one might expect — an embrace at the door, an exchange of flowers, and introductions — but we soon learn that Kieran’s family is not entirely normal.
His sister, Avery, is a master of witchcraft and takes an immediate dislike to Danny. She tries to get Kieran’s attention throughout dinner but is unable to communicate her sentiments, so she is forced to use her magical abilities. Avery sneaks a potion into Kieran’s pear cobbler, and the night takes a surreal turn.
Immediately after taking the first bite, Kieran climbs onto the dinner table and says with complete conviction, “I am a pear!” After the initial confusion subsides, some family members show support for Kieran’s new identity while others are more critical, but eventually Avery takes responsibility for her actions.
I was very impressed by how much Sunderland was able to pack into such a short play. “I am a Pear” was funny and surreal while still retaining a message. The play alluded to the controversy surrounding gender identity and pronoun use by exaggerating the situation to an absurd point so that each conflicting reaction could be better observed individually.
The acting and direction was also very well executed. The actors clearly knew their characters well, and expertly used the limited props and space at their disposal. There is also the potential for this short play to be made into a longer production.
We never find out much about Avery, like how she became a witch or why she is so determined to stop Danny and Kieran from dating. While these missing details detracted slightly from the play, as Avery’s motives were not entirely clear, the play was still a success.
"I am a Pear" combined humor and absurdity to produce a short play that actually made its audience think. Despite a few missing details, the production was a success and has the potential to become a much more significant work.