I've heard more than one person over the past few weeks compare "Lockdown" to "The Breakfast Club." The most obvious similarity being multiple teen stereotypes stuck with each other in a library all day.
Playwright Julia Edwards references Jean-Paul Sartre's "No Exit" through her character Simone (Amanda Mortimore). Edwards was commissioned to write "Lockdown," and I believe she chose to mention Sarte's seminal work for very specific reasons. The doomed trio of "No Exit" hate each other and do not want to be there, but in time they learn to at least tolerate each other, working together on the situation at hand.
High school mirrors the real world. The popular people are the first to chime in, but rarely have something meaningful to offer. The quiet observant outcasts, once confidence sets it, bring insight and forgiveness. LeeAnn (Lily Telford), brags future stardom and Hollywood connections, while New York transplant Rosie (Isabelle Mosbarger) has nothing but contempt for her spoiled, idiotic Southern California classmates. Then there's Mia (Bethany Imonti), who cares only about missing a possible audition and what will happen when she needs to use the bathroom. Eventually Squid (Nathan Sullivan), the juvenile delinquent, assesses the situation.
The school is equipped with hidden cameras and a Department of Defense security system which has locked the students in until an all clear is implemented. They can't get out, so they might as well make the best of things. For the too-cool-for-school Garrett (Alioune Fall), that's hitting on the girls and eventually starting a fist fight with feminist Lex (Casey Hearl). Satan-worshipping Crazy Lily (Jackie Gladden), decides to steal Simone's headphones and iPod and zones out. Class President, Darcy (Josie Sutherland), uses the opportunity to remind every one she is the authority and bosses around her two minions Pigeon (Cami Brown) and Morgan (Kyra Westerberg).
As the hours pass, the meek inherit the library. The humble, peace-making Pigeon is elected the new president. Quiet, nervous Alice (Eliza Wright), reveals the terror of a previous school shooting she was involved in. Was there a shot? Library assistant Vince (Mitchell Harper) swears he heard something, but student administrator Jeremy (Wyatt DeShong) considers his opinion useless and can only berate him as stupid and a "fag."
The superior second act revolves around a substitute teacher that has barricaded herself in the bathroom in fear. Katarina, played brilliantly by Cheyanna Simmons, reminds the students that they are all spoiled and the day will come when their parents will cut them off and they'll need to figure out "how to eat on $3 a day!"
When Crazy Lily goes into diabetic coma, the caged teens finally unite as a community, working together towards the common good of saving a life. There are powerful monologues, funny moments and strong performances by this talented cast of 15. As in the play, this cast is a community. "Lockdown" is a true ensemble piece for young actors and wonderful piece of very real, very raw, slightly PG-rated theater that should resonate deeply to a teen audience.
* MAPA's "Lockdown" continues through March 30; at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Tickets are $12 for adults; $8 for seniors and students (18 and younger), available at www.mauiacademy.org, by calling 244-8760 or by visiting the Customer Service Kiosk at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.