When a sympathetic salamander decides to defend a buggy frog, the large-hearted amphibian’s world changes.
Seventeen-year-old playwright Kevin Ryan presents his play, “The Potent Toddy,” at a Fast and Furious, Down and Dirty production at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ Zech Hall at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26 in Langley.
“The Potent Toddy” takes a deeper look at what it means to be human and explores the darker side of the human condition through the surrealistic lens of its anthropomorphized characters.
When the deranged Frog appeals to Salamander for help, Salamander is unsure of what to do. He must save the vulnerable creature, but at what cost to himself? Salamander finds it hard to reconcile with Frog’s insanity, and flees.
But after some prompting, Salamander defends Frog’s position out of fondness. Frog descends deeper into madness by the day, but Salamander looks beyond her failings and grows to love Frog, despite her condition.
Ryan is a high school senior at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo. The two shows he wrote and directed for the school’s Dramafest won awards, including “The Potent Toddy’s” wins for best writing, best ensemble performance and best costume design. Enthused by the positive feedback of the play, the senior said he is pumped to keep writing.
“I have been working on this show for about a year now, and I am extremely proud of it,” Ryan said. He was encouraged to produce the show at Zech Hall by his grandmother Carol Ryan, a Langley resident and avid WICA supporter.
But the playwright has bigger plans for the play beyond this performance.
“I have just gotten a copyright for it, and I am entering it in many writing contests,” he said.
Ryan also plans to continue his writing endeavors at Lewis and Clark College this fall.
“The Potent Toddy” explores a certain level of the avant garde, he said. And, although the play uses a somewhat elevated stylized language, its themes follow a classic “everyman” journey.
“It’s a show about finding oneself and the acceptance of others for those who aren’t quite ‘normal,’” he said.
His artistic influences are diverse, and he mentioned Swedish film director Lasse Halström as one that is particularly strong.
“Halström’s films always seem to be very real, but light and fun — whimsical in a sense — and subtly meaningful,” Ryan noted. “This play is much like that. It’s a fun but meaningful play.”
The play was inspired by a school assignment in which he was required to explore the elements of surrealism.
“I think some of the absurdity of word choice, or the way in which the characters conduct themselves, are elements of surrealism, and also the costumes and set are influenced by elements of the absurd and surreal,” Ryan said.
“I inject subtle allusions to many different writers such as Shakespeare, Edward Gorey and Poe, which makes it even more surreal. It just doesn’t feel like something particularly worldly, but it definitely feels real and resonates with the audience.”
All seats for “The Potent Toddy” cost $10. Proceeds from Fast and Furious programs go toward a new light booth and sound booth for Zech Hall.
For more info, click here or call 221-8268 for tickets.