Ramon Esquivel’s “Nocturnal” at the Bloomington Playwrights Project is a fast moving forty-five minutes of theatre that begins with a high school spray painting prank and ends with each of member of the quartet and the audience shaken by the night’s events.
Three freshmen: Rolly, Ian McCabe; Cisco, Elijah Willis, and Ryker, McCarry Reynolds, are out on a mission to spray paint over their school’s senior class sign. The pranksters are a brainy group of role playing kids. They’re equipped with walkie-talkies and they’ve even cased the site and timed the visits from the security guard. The trio figures that the seniors will think that the juniors are brave enough but too smart to pull the prank, that the freshman are too scared and too dumb to do it and that this leaves the finger of blame to fall on the sophomores as sophomores are both smart enough and brave enough.
The freshmen pranksters are pranked upon by Amelia, Nikeeta Brown. She blows a security guard whistle and this scatters the three boys. When they regroup, she brags on turning the tables and tensions really get stoked up. Group loyalties, alliances, intelligence, bravery, skill at video games and even sexual orientation all get dragged into an increasingly competitive and nastily charged swirl.
Playwright Ramon Esquivel is actually a high school teacher and he knows this age group, so the language, the tensions, the rapidly changing emotions and the ups and downs ring true. Director Breshaun Joyner has a solid cast. Only one is currently in high school, but they’re all young enough to have very recent memories of just what it was like to be on the cusp just leaving middle school and entering high school, a year too young to drive but plenty old enough for lots of adult concerns. Throughout the play she’s gotten believable coherent performances even when the physical action is quick and the emotions change even more quickly. The set by Richard Perez allows for a variety of levels and director Joyner uses them creatively. There’s one chase scene that’s so neatly choreographed chase scene that I’d love to see it again.
The Bloomington Playwrights Project’s production of Ramon Esquivel’s “Nocturnal” continues with Thursday, Friday and Saturday eight pm and Sunday two pm performances through February fourteenth.
You can find an interview with Ramon Esquivel here.