Nitrous Oxide amuses audience through humorous, relevant skits

Photo from theatreink.net

Photo from theatreink.net

Emma Brignall

Nitrous Oxide supplied much-needed humor to the community through amusing yet truthful skits that emphasized the difficulties of the pandemic. Directed by seniors Mikayla Alford and Marley Craine, viewers watched from the comfort of their homes as the show streamed online Feb. 25 and 26. 

Nitrous Oxide is the annual comedy show composed of student-produced skits. “Everything is written, performed, directed, and produced by students,” according to Alford.

Despite the pandemic, the cast pulled off the performance through a combination of virtual meetings and various socially-distanced skits. “The big difference is that we had to film everything,” said Alford. “It was a big learning curve.” Craine added that it felt “more like making a TV show.”

According to junior Sam Braithwaite, the performers were unable to build off the audience’s energy given the online format. However, Braithwaite added the virtual setting did yield filming benefits. He said, “If it didn’t go quite right we could do it again, which you can’t do on a live stage.”

With the new platform, they were able to reach more people, and Craine added that relatives who lived far away could enjoy the show for the first time from home.

Not only did COVID-19 affect the production of Nitrous Oxide, it also influenced the actual skits. The cast referenced the pandemic in multiple skits, such as “Safety First,” and “Covid Bachelorette.” 

In “Safety First,” written by Craine, two students sat at desks six feet apart. When one started coughing convulsively, and fell off their chair, the other expressed her sympathy, but said she could not help due to social distancing, making light of the extreme measures of this time.

“Ode to Rox Diner,” by Alford, reminded everyone of the difficulties COVID-19 has brought for small businesses. In this skit, they recalled memories of the Rox Diner, a local restaurant in Newtonville that shut down during the pandemic.

However, many skits explored other topics that gave the audience a change to disengage from the COVID-19 world.

One particularly humorous skit, “Solve-It Crew,” by junior Sam Melville, creatively showed that a situation is not always how it appears, particularly with people. In the skit, actors approach a figure who has been terrorizing the neighborhood and attempt to identify the person. Each time the crew identifies it however, a new realization strikes them and the figure becomes stranger, switching between masks and outfits. The cast continuously shouted the title of the figure as it changed from long-lost relatives to historical characters, leaving everyone thoroughly confused but laughing. 

Other skits explored the bounds of theatre, ranging from poking fun at various cast members to dark humor and politics. In the opening skit, the actors classified each other with their rank within the cast based on their jokes and personalities. Their amount of experience with Nitrous could place them high, but bad jokes or acting ability would raise or demote them.

Actors even used technology to their advantage, incorporating it into the skit “Minecraft,” by Alford and Melville, where the actors were playing a video game that appeared on the screen as if the audience were a part of it.

The cast persevered through all the challenges a pandemic can bring to theater, still succeeding in a delightful performance and managing to bond with one another. After four years in the show, Alford said, “I’m leaving Nitrous, having a great group of friends and a show that I can be proud of.”