Drama’s “Devilish” is a wickedly charming schoolgirl story

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Brandon Chin

High school can be hell. An agent of the Devil just makes it more likely.

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Junior Michaela Murphy’s pleas and hurried gestures gave form to her desperation as she described her desire for popularity. Framed by the spotlight, her problems came to full realization to the audience. Photo by Brandon Chin.
Drama’s production of “Devilish,” produced by junior Thaddeus J. Tarshis and directed by senior Megan Chandler, is an adaptation of the novel by Maureen Johnson that was published under the same name. While the other two plays produced by the class of 2015 focused on maturity, madness and death, Devilish tells a tale of temptation, redemption, and friendship in rural St. Teresa High School. With a

unique perspective and a host of nuanced characters, Drama gave enough spin to make this otherwise simple story soar above the pages.

Set in a quiet high school in Salem, Massachusetts, “Devilish” is a modern Faustian tale where an unsatisfied mortal, in this case unpopular senior Allison (junior Michaela Murphy) sells her soul to the Devil for what she most desires. Like Faust, Allison meets with the devil’s representative, Lanalee (junior Osher Fein) to exchange her soul for instant popularity and a cute haircut. Jane (junior Sunaina Hajela), her best friend, becomes wrapped in this web as Allison steals her boyfriend, Elton (junior Hari Ganesh) and their friendship falls apart soon after. As time ticks forward and Lanalee’s unholy Poodle Prom creeps ever closer, Jane discovers Allison’s deal and strikes a new bargain with herself and her best friend on the line.

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Junior Osher Fein composed a cold demeanor as she glared at junior Sunaina Hajela. The open hostility marked a heightened tension in comparison to the deception and treachery in previous scenes. Photo by Brandon Chin.

The frequent use of red lighting gave the play an unearthly outlook but more importantly, it provided a stunning transition from calm to wicked. This effect was most prominent in the scene where Lanalee carried Jane and Allison to an alternate setting in a flash of red light and a burst of sound. The accompanying music and the ensemble of emerging demons (sophomore Betty Huang and senior Deborah Son) created a scene that was both captivating and daunting with its rapid pace.

A point of contention, however, lies with the predictability of the plot. As this is a production based on the book, the original book itself may be at fault; certain characteristics, such as Elton and Allisons’ inner compassion towards the end of the plague, were anticipated and thus took away from their initial warmth. Such problems are inherent to the plot and can pose as a steep obstacle.

With a host of skilled actors and a wicked sense of theater, “Devilish” will always be a temptation for fans and newcomers alike.


Photos by Brandon Chin