Review: “The Cages We Build”


Olivia Guy and Jana Isern

“The Cages We Build”, a competition piece that is performed and directed by PA’s theater studio class debuted its first shows for PA students on Oct 20 and 21. 

The performance’s cryptic message that “we all have the key to our freedom” is presented in an emotional, heartbreaking way that will leave you speechless by the final bow. The play directed by theatre teacher Julieta Skylar Grey with senior Lindsey Chambers as stage manager, features senior Ryan Campbell playing the father, senior Jacob Tillet as the child Dean, and senior Anusa Peric as the mother. 

“The Cages We Build” portrays the heartwrenching reality of abusive relationships and the difficulty to overcome the excruciating expectations of life. The piece follows the life of Dean from birth to his teenage years depicting his growth in an abusive household with an absentee father and an emotionally abusive mother. Dean struggles with self-loathing until he meets Lucy, played by Julia La Fountaine, who helps him break away from society’s prisons. 

The acting was thoroughly well rehearsed and emulated the essence of the story. Both Campbell and Peric had a strong presence on stage that captivated the audience through their vulnerable interpretation of the abusive nature of their characters. Tillet’s portrayal of Dean, while at times over-exaggerated, illustrated the cycle of emotions, each one emphasizing the chaotic mentality of his character. LaFountaine offered a glimmer of hope in the somber performance, conveying an inspirational message. 

With a run-time of roughly 45 minutes, at times the pacing of the story was disproportionate. The beginning was like the perfect amount of time to introduce the characters and establish the background of the story. However, toward the middle, the scenes were a little repetitive leaving the ending feeling rushed. With an unfiltered atmosphere present throughout the production, what felt like an idealized and glamorized ending left us unsatisfied. Regardless, the performance handed us the key to our own cages. 

The final bow and the close of the curtain left the audience captivated and questioning their self-inflicted chains. 

This piece was presented in the VTA Richmond competition on October 28. We will update you with a feature story shortly.