The entire story takes place in a room at a mental hospital. "The Curious Savage" follows the story of a woman who inherits $10 million from her late husband. She wants to give the money away to people to make them happy and fulfill their dreams, but her children have other ideas. So they have her committed to a mental hospital.
And yes, it is a comedy. It will be performed by the drama group at Cascade High School next month.
"It is very poignant and compassionate, but it is very funny," said Mandi Wickline, Cascade School Drama director. "It is well written. The show has such great characters. I would call them character parts, except they really have to have humanity or the message of the show will not get across."
Wickline came upon the play after speaking with some theater veterans, one of whom was a high school teacher. She was very much intrigued by it. Interestingly, neither she nor co-director Ted Fredericks had ever seen it.
"We're really creating this from the ground up. The author always gives you lots of great clues on how to make the show come alive. Ted has built the set. We are putting props together. I am on costumes," she said.
The play was written by John Patrick in 1950. Even though the play comes from a starkly different era, she said the message is very universal, about greed and what is important in life.
One messages of the show, she said, is that people have resources inside they just aren't using.
"There is a pianist that is going to play at town hall. He is a professional. But he went to World War II instead," she said. "His plane was shot down. He thinks he has a big scar across his face, but he doesn't. The scar is inside. He can play the piano, but he just doesn't."
A mental health advocate, Wickline appreciates how the show treats people with a huge amount of compassion. Even though shock therapy, cold water baths and restraints were common for the time, "The Curious Savage' takes place in a very optimistic setting, she said.
"They were not all horrible torture chambers back then. What is cool about the doctor and nurse characters is they just treat the patients like they are quirky people," she said. "Their quirks are more magnified than normal people. One of the messages of the show is the people on the outside are crazier than the people on the inside."
There are 11 students in the cast, mostly underclassmen. By design, there are more girls than boys. The show has five boys and six girls. Wickline said shows like that are hard to find. Most of the time, it is 11 boys and one girl.
Everyone who tried out was cast. Luckily, just enough people tried out. Playing the lead character of Ethel P Savage is sophomore Karlee Ericksen, performing in her first high school production.
"Everyone is so well drawn. The author notes at the beginning, you have to tell the story with humanity. You can't make the characters much larger than life or you take away the personhood, the uniqueness," she said.
The students have been rehearsing for nine weeks, mainly learning lines, since schedules are so tight for everyone. The show opens at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9 in the Cascade High School Commons. "The Curious Savage" runs Nov. 10, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. Cost is $5 for students with ASB and seniors. Adults are $10.
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.