Review: 'Lockdown' by Pomperaug Theatre Company

Nancy Sasso Janis

Pomperaug Theatre Company presented the dramedy ‘Lockdown’ by Julia Edwards in their black box theatre at their Southbury campus under the direction of Paul E. Doniger. Emily Pearson served as assistant director of the very contemporary two-act play with some unlikely incidental music thrown in.  

The lockdown takes place in a high school library in California 72 days away from graduation. The doors automatically lock and a cast of 15 characters is trapped inside. They are not sure what is happening outside the library doors, the internet is down, someone thinks they hear a gunshot and a freaked-out substitute teacher is found barricaded in the bathroom. “In a claustrophobic pressure-cooker of fear, paranoia, and social strife, this motley crew of hackers, delinquents, surfer dudes, and prom queens must rise above the chaos to save a life and discover the meaning of tolerance along the way,” reads the plays synopsis. An unusual choice for a fall play perhaps, but it worked well in this space with a teenaged cast that included some first time actors. 

As the audience chose their seats, some of the cast members already sat in the library that was on the the stage. Kathleen Stango, as the princess Leeann, opened the show speaking on her cell phone. The actress-to-be already has an agent and she is willing to pay for the answers to an upcoming test. Ryan DeAngelis was the computer hacker that works in the library and PHS junior Jacob Rogotzke was his bodyguard Vince. 

PHS senior Jordan Aucella played the slick surfer dude Garrett in an open California shirt and Alisha Tedesco was the no-nonsense Rosie. Nicole Torino played the role of Lex, a feminist with attitude and Justin Callanan was the straight-laced class president named Darcy hanging posters for the upcoming prom. 

Junior Gwyn Osborn was the quiet animal lover nicknamed Pigeon and Mary Trudel, who has appeared at Seven Angels, played the retro Morgan; clad in her Hello, Kitty circle skirt, she can relate most anything to an old movie. Kayla Jones, a PHS freshman and veteran of Main Street Ballet’s annual ‘Nutcracker’ played the dark Lily who can hear Satan and Chris Fernandes was the anti-authority skater delinquent Squid. 

Senior Natalie Dahl was a standout in the role of actress wannabe Mia. Abbey Dwight played the dictionary reading Alice and Samantha Moore took on the role of the goth Simone. Savannah Moore played the frazzled teacher Katarina, who not only loses it but probably never had it. 

The library set was pretty convincing and the costumes designed by Sophie Stanko bore the mark of each character. Lighting was impressive for the small space. Some of the recorded sounds overwhelmed the dialogue but it was cool to hear the voice of Pomperaug’s actual principal Glenn Lungarini repeating a reassuring announcement.  As someone who reports on the local Board of Education meetings, I enjoyed that one character knew the make and model of the recently installed security system because he had read the school board notes.
Kudos to the Pomperaug students who brought this unique play to their school community with the help of their beloved director and supportive principal.

Samantha Torino (at left) as Simone and Natalie Dahl as Mia in 'Lockdown' Photo by Nancy Sasso Janis