Idaho Falls, ID
sam@samanthabairdfreelance.com

May Script Reviews

May Script Reviews

I didn’t get a chance to write a lot of script reviews this month. I was able to start reading some musical books that have started gathering dust on my bookshelf though. Here we go!

Dear Evan Hansen by Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul

Brief Summary: A social commentary on mental illness and the impact the digital world has on us today, Dear Evan Hansen is a Tony Award-winning musical set to move from stage to film later this year. Evan Hansen is a high school student with an assignment from his therapist to write letters to himself reminding himself what will be good about each day. When one of his letters is unintentionally seen and taken from him, a dangerous lie is told and his life will never be the same.

Praise/Critique: There is a lot about Dear Evan Hansen that is problematic. There is also a lot about it that is good and opens up conversations that need to be had. It’s extremely important to talk about mental illness. This isn’t the only script about mental illness, but I think anything that brings up the discussion is great. It’s also important to remember that maybe Dear Evan Hansen is intentionally problematic. I don’t think the point is to like, and side with, Evan. There is a lot to unpack with this script, but it’s worth taking that time.

Recommendations: This script would be great for educational, community, or professional theatre. As far as educational theatre, I would draw the line at high school theatre. A lot of the music in this show is upbeat and catchy, pulling in a younger crowd, but I think there is the possibility of high school students not fully grasping the bigger themes of the show. High school-aged actors/actresses should be involved, but only in settings where they are more seasoned performers and able to portray these difficult themes. Because of the importance of technology in this script, theatres with higher budgets might be able to pull it off easier, but easier doesn’t always mean better.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library or Amazon for Availability

The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown

Brief Summary: The Last Five Years tells the story of Jamie Wellerstein and Cathy Hiatt falling in and out of love over five years. The story is told chronologically (by Jamie) and reverse chronologically (by Cathy). Their wedding is the only time they meet on stage. The story stems from Brown’s own experiences with his marriage and divorce. 

Praise/Critique: This script is fascinating. If you’ve never experienced The Last Five Years, the idea of a story told forwards and backward at the same time sounds unworkable. But it works! The way the story is woven together, it is hard to get lost in the timeline. Everything makes sense. This script is a sung-through musical, so it’s fun to read along in the script while listening to the music. There are points that would be missed if you’re just listening to the music. I highly recommend getting your hands on the script to read it. I’ve never seen this show on stage, but I have seen the 2014 film with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. I’d recommend that as well. This show is such a unique way of storytelling. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of listening to it or seeing it.

Recommendations: The greatest thing about this script is that with only two characters that only interact once on stage, it can be done on any stage with as many or as few props and set pieces as the budget allows or the director desires. I don’t think this show would be right for high school students, but I could see it done in virtually any other setting. The age of the characters is really important to the script, but I personally think it would be really cool if we saw this script performed by an older couple looking back on a relationship. Just a thought?

Rating: ✩✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library or Amazon for Availability

For more about how and why I write script reviews, take a look at the introduction to this series!

 

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