VHS makes bold return in Bath school's 1-act play

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BATH — And you thought VHS was dead.

Morse High School’s offering in this year’s Regional One-Act Play Competition, which the school is hosting, centers around a video store that wants nothing to do with DVDs and Blu-Ray.

Nope, it’s all about the tape cassettes that in the 1990s pretty much went the way of the dodo bird.

“Str8-2-Vid3o” (pronounced “Straight to Video”) is the brainchild of senior Sophie Mayo, who’s been involved in the one-acts throughout her high school career. The comedy will be one of nine school plays to be performed Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9; students from Portland, South Portland, Maine Central Institute, Waynflete, Freeport, Wiscasset, Boothbay Region and Windham will also compete at 826 High St.

Morse’s play will run the first night at 8 p.m., the third in the weekend series.

“That’s our good-luck slot,” said Kevin O’Leary, an English and drama teacher at Morse who has 11 one-act productions under his belt.

Mayo’s story is about a guy named Kurt, who still owns the VHS store in 2013.

“Right away you know he’s a quirky guy,” O’Leary said, noting that Kurt’s customers are as eccentric as he is.

“Sophie has this wonderfully quirky dark sense of humor, which I’ve always appreciated,” O’Leary explained.

Mayo said in an e-mail that she was going for a nostalgic aspect when writing the play, but that she wasn’t sure how she could do it.

“VHS (tapes) were still big when I was a kid, and I was lucky to experience the changeover from VHS to DVD,” she said. “I don’t remember what VHS stores looked like and I thought, I should create one.”

While she considered having the story take place in the 1990s, “placing a VHS store in 2013 makes more sense with … Kurt,” Mayo said. “He acts as if his life is a movie, and a lot of things are ‘out of place’ with him.”

The play features 29 actors who frequent the store during the 40-minute production. Kurt, played by Nathanial Barter, has an antagonist in his sister Violet, played by fellow junior Emilee Love. They got along and played as kids, making many home movies together, but now “she is tired of him playing this game every time she comes in, and he acts like he doesn’t know her,” O’Leary said.

Violet’s friend Felix, played by senior Matthew Boyle, is trying to help her come to terms with the situation. Kurt has a hot-and-cold relationship with his business partner, Andy, who is played by sophomore Paden Stanton.

“The journey of the play is, can Violet break through Kurt’s need to play-act and live in this sort of fantasy world, so that they can get back to their relationship?,” O’Leary said.

The winner of the regional competition will advance to the state level two weeks later, which is followed by the New England regional contest in April.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.