Review: ‘The Texas Homecoming Revolution of 1995’ at Best Medicine Rep

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5

Bullies in the bathroom, rampant rumors and petty one-upmanship.

Whether in Texas, Iowa or Connecticut, the horrors of high school cattiness haunt many into their adult years. Texas Homecoming’s five-woman ensemble gifts the audience with therapeutic laughter.

Jess (Kira Burri), Tammy (Brooke Friday) and Sammy (Claire Derriennic) are excited by some gossip on the bathroom wall. Photo by Kanea McDonald.
Jess (Kira Burri), Tammy (Brooke Friday) and Sammy (Claire Derriennic) are excited by some gossip on the bathroom wall in The Texas Homecoming Revolution of 1995. Photo by Kanea McDonald.

Written by Jennifer Faletto and directed by Melissa Firlit, this world premier fits solidly into the mission of Best Medicine Rep, devoted to the development and production of new comic plays. The broad appeal of the subject matter also fulfills Best Medicine’s other goal: to further the artistic, educational and cultural development of the Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village area.

Texas Homecoming’s strength lies with the spot-on portrayal of the characters behind the dynamics that define the high school experience.

Sammy, played by Claire Derriennic, won my heart with her outstanding acting. Her every word, emotion and action reinforce her role as the wanna-be who will do anything to be favored by the ‘in’ crowd even when it goes against her moral fiber. Costume designer Lori Boyd’s choice of a blonde wig over Derriennic’s short dark hair was a brilliant choice to symbolize these desires. Whether expressing frustration through tears or moral indignation through clenched teeth, Derriennic delivers with aplomb.

Abbey (Kelsey Yudice), the rebel with many causes, is tough, determined, and aware of the inequities in the world around her. Her attempts to educate classmates fall on deaf ears and subject her to derision. Popping in and out of hiding spaces ranging from a bathroom stall to her locker, she is always pithy and piercing.

Played by Ashton Fortune, Crystal’s insouciant front and privileged lifestyle overlay a core of insecurity and hatred of her mother’s control of every aspect of her life. Her desire to be set free is, at first, hidden beneath knowing looks, pouting lips and breathy voice. She is the girl that everyone hates for what she has and secretly wants to be. Fortune could melt a glacier with her meaningful looks and pregnant pauses.

The cattiest of the cats, Jess, played by Kira Burri, brought back the worst memories possible. She slipped into her role so perfectly that I was left to wonder whether Burri was this way in real life. Her bully sidekick, Tammy (Brooke Friday) burned with her superiority complex and sharp tongue.

The absence of scenery and prop changes allows the story to unfold seamlessly. Stop action by all but one of the actors in several scenes allows focus while maintaining context and avoiding unnecessary dashing to and fro. The director (Melissa Firlit) also employs a particularly wonderful flashback to show the basis of a major fight between two students.

Best Medicine Rep operates as a temporary installation with corner stand lights and no permanent structures. This takes nothing away from the impact of staging and quality of production.

Running Time: One hour and 45 minutes, with one intermission.

The Texas Homecoming Revolution of 1995 is presented by Best Medicine Rep at their theater space in Lakeforest Mall – 701 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD. The show runs through March 25, 2018. Purchase tickets at the door or go online.