Education Lab

Wacky, absurd ... cursed? Central High debuts its ‘mysterious’ fall play

The cast of Central High’s “The Mysterious Elephant, And the Terrible Tragedy of the Unlikely Addington Twins* (*Who Kill Him)” perform the final number of their play.
The cast of Central High’s “The Mysterious Elephant, And the Terrible Tragedy of the Unlikely Addington Twins* (*Who Kill Him)” perform the final number of their play. aappleton@fresnobee.com

Expect it to be weird. Absurd. And maybe cursed.

That’s the warning the cast of Central High’s “The Mysterious Elephant, And the Terrible Tragedy of the Unlikely Addington Twins* (*Who Kill Him)“ has for the audience who comes to see their show at its Friday, Sept. 28 premiere.

The play by Chicago-based playwright Emily Schwartz revolves around two young siblings who have inherited an elephant heirloom along with a cursed family legacy. As they fight their fate, they’re aided by a Greek chorus of ancestors, and hampered by an evil narrator.

“It’s wacky,” said Tyler Terrell, who plays one of the Addington twins.

The seven-person cast of sophomores, juniors and seniors plays multiple roles throughout the show. They’ve been rehearsing all summer. But after unusual circumstances forced them to push the performance date by two weeks, they started to wonder whether this show, like Shakespeare’s Scottish play, might be a little cursed.

“We didn’t get the set until this week, we had people out sick,” said Chloe Heard, who plays several of the ancestors.

Director Chris Berzac said he saw the show when it first played in Chicago in 2008 and loved it, but that he has been unable to get in touch with Schwartz to discuss Central’s performance. As far as he knows, it has not been performed since its Chicago debut.

“I’m not even sure the playwright liked this show,” Berzac said. Reviews from Chicago newspapers called it “well-written” and “clever.”

Although Friday’s performance is the only time the cast will perform the show at Central, they’ll take it on the road this winter to various theater festivals in California. Berzac said he believes Central is one of few local schools to participate in statewide theatrical competitions. It also has one of two Fresno-area chapters of the International Thespian Society, a student theater organization.

“The big, rich schools, they’re afraid of us, because we keep winning,” Berzac joked.

“Mysterious Elephant” plays Friday, Sept. 28 at the Performing Arts Center on Central High School’s East Campus. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults, and the cast is holding a raffle for stuffed elephants to help raise funds for their traveling shows and other activities.

Aleksandra Appleton, 559-341-3747, @aleksappleton
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