Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 22, 2024

Witness Theater showcases wide range of student work

By RISHABH KUMAR | February 20, 2022



All four plays at the I-Show revolve around the setting of a cabin.

Witness Theater, the only student-written, directed and produced theater group on campus, held its Intersession Show last weekend. For this showcase, titled “Cabin Fever,” each story stayed on them by being set in a cabin, at least to some extent.

The first play, titled The Watchmakers Game, took the cabin theme most importantly, as the story is based around two couples who visit a cabin. The couple on the left includes Emma, played by freshman Katherine Budinger and Jason, played by freshman Ander Diez; the one on the right consists ofChristopher, played by sophomore Shour Arashanapalli and Amelia, played by freshman Angala Rajasegaran. As the story progresses, we realize that there are not two separate cabins but rather the same cabin across two time different time periods, with Emma and Jason in the present, and Christopher and Amelia in the past. Both couples learn that they must play a game in order to free themselves from the cabin — or else they die within it.

Both the couples find a book at the same time, filled with pages of writing from past visitors, and we see each of them try to solve the puzzle as the cabins get rapidly colder, only for the couple from the past to fail. But, connected through this temporal singularity, Amelia is able to send a message to the couple from the present before dying, and they are able to figure out that the key is not to solve the problems in the book but to destroy the pen that they had been using to write in the book — that is, to destroy the way the game can continue in the first place. 

The second play, Thick as Thieves, revolves around a group of robbers in their hideout at a secret cabin, as the title may suggest. Natalie, played by freshman Kate Ketelhohn, is new to the crew and is welcomed by its leader, Sasha, played by junior Ava Powell. Natalie learns that this is no ordinary group of robbers but more like a Gen-Z version of Robin Hood, since they donate most of their heist earnings to “charities, homeless shelters and mutual aid funds.” 

However, tensions grow as we learn that Quinn, played by grad student Melissa Shohet, who had long been part of the crew, was actually a cop in her previous life. But she successfully defends her honor, having “seen the good she can do for other people” that police work could never give her. Flipping the tropes of a good police officer versus an evil thief, the story was a quite funny take on the origins of crime and the role of law enforcement, a much-politicized debate today.

Better Than Revenge, the next play in the showcase, follows the lives of a close-knit group of high school girls at summer camp. Willa, played by junior Andrea Guillén, and Eden, played by freshman Katherine Budinger, are in the middle of an amateur card-reading session to determine if Willa’s grandmother will be okay, which gets hijacked by Sabina, played by Ketelhohn, who just wants to know what her future chances at finding a boyfriend will be. 

All of this comes to a halt when Abby, played by Powell, a girl who goes to a different high school, comes to their room. Sabina clashes with Abby because she thinks Abby spends too much time with boys, but we come to find out that summer camp is in the only time Abby gets to spend with any boys because she goes to Catholic school. The story frays further as we learn that Eden has figured out she is gay through a lifelong crush on Willa, her (straight) best friend. The tension eventually eases as they all find space to acknowledge each other’s individuality, but the story certainly didn’t resolve everything, in a way that reflected the often-unresolved tensions of childhood.

The final play, and perhaps the most topical, revolves around two childhood enemies reuniting years later in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Titled Love Is in the Air, the play follows Mara, played by Guillén, coming to the cabin of Allastor, played by senior Mark Gonzales, as she runs away from the zombies, who are euphemistically called ‘lovesick.’ We learn that they both have lost everyone they loved to the virus, and we see them both grapple with the isolation and exhaustion of being forced away from other people to avoid infection (sounds familiar, right?).

While they initially hated each other, both end up revealing that they have always liked one another — but falling in love is exactly what makes you a zombie (lovesick) and exactly how they have lost the rest of the people they loved. They end up realizing that there is nothing they can do to stop how they feel for each other, and so they succumb to the virus. 

Overall, it was a set of very lively performances, with a strong combination of drama and comedy, and was able to carry the continuous theme of the cabin across all its plays quite well.

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