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BWW Review: THE ISOLATION PROJECT at Limelight Youth Theatre

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BWW Review: THE ISOLATION PROJECT at Limelight Youth Theatre

Amid a steady stream of theatre companies presenting online play readings and cabaret style performances, Gilbert, Arizona's Limelight Youth Theatre turned heads last weekend by premiering the first half of an original work in an original genre. THE ISOLATION PROJECT is two one-acts told through a series of Zoom chats between teenage friends (and frenemies), both set during the current health crisis.

Written by Colleen Porter, THE SOCIAL DIVA GAME roasts social media influencers with a behind-the-scenes look at fictional, famous YouTuber Sydney Simmons collecting and manipulating her followers. It's entertaining (if predictable), funny, and it's great to see an outlet for talented teenage actors and actresses deprived of the stage. They're having a great time performing live (which they clearly miss) and that's the tentpole of this production's success. It helps that, while in most high school productions the teens have to play adults, this cast is sharpening their teeth by playing characters to whom they can better relate. Director Seth Tucker presents his performers as active listeners but full of teenage idiosyncrasies. He's coached their "uhs" and "umms" and "likes" perfectly dead-on without going overboard for laughs.

The highlight of the production is the Zoom style format. Every scene is an online video chat with varying numbers of people and varying amounts of time passing in between each scene. Since we only see the chats, with no other windows into their world, we are left to determine what has happened since the previous scene and even how long it's been.

Watching the show with the same technology that the characters on-screen are using adds a bizarre fly-on-the-wall quality. THE SOCIAL DIVA GAME is not super deep and doesn't try to be, but the format feels like eavesdropping which, light-hearted fun or no, is pretty much the goal of post-modern American realism on stage. Limelight has scored artistically and educationally with this concept and execution.

The second one-act premieres on Thursday. A STRANGE KIND OF SPRING uses the same online-interaction structure to follow a group of friends from Saguaro Mountain Performing Arts School starting the night before the stay-at-home order re-arranges their relationships, friendships, and expectations of a "new normal."

You can watch A STRANGE KIND OF SPRING at on Thursday July 30th, Friday July 31st and Saturday August 1st. Each performance is at 7:30. Limelight Youth Theatre is performing THE ISOLATION PROJECT as a fundraiser and suggests a donation of $15 per person or $40 per family.

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From This Author Timothy Shawver