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Nitrous Oxide: An Evening of Sketch Comedy

Instagram: @Theatreinknnhs
Members of Nitrous Oxide gather together for group photo, Monday Feb. 12.

Nitrous Oxide, North’s comedy troupe, hilariously entertained audiences with their annual show, featuring an eclectic cast of “zombaes,” a swamp girl, pirates who spoke exclusively in cursive, and more. Directed by seniors Nate Reilly and Isabella Steenstrup, Nitrous Oxide ran from Feb. 14-17 in the Little Theater.

Nitrous Oxide is a sketch comedy show produced, written, and performed by students. Due to the show’s youth-driven nature, many of the comedic elements were highly recognizable to North students, with sketches poking fun at “Gen Z” slang and including classic high school tropes. 

“I really liked the sketches “Oh Say” and “The Door Farted” just because I think those are really clever sketches and their topics have a really prominent role in our culture right now,” said sophomore Zadie Besev, a cast member. 

Starting the night off on a high note was a sketch that introduced the entire cast as an extremely stereotyped, Disney-esque high school. With the ring of a recognizable bell, the audience was immediately transported to “Nitrous Oxide High,” where they were met with an overzealous principal played by Isabella Steenstrup. Trailing behind Steenstrup was Nate Reilly’s character, a newly named “Co-Principal” receiving a tour. As they became acquainted with the school, they were further burdened by its students, who were passed off by the principal as normal cliques: jocks, nerds, and most importantly, swamp girl. Despite the absurd and stereotypical nature of the school, Reilly’s character, as if from an alternate universe, seemed to be the only one questioning it. To which Steenstrup said, “Hey, that’s just how it is.” 

Due to the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) strike, Nitrous Oxide was met with scheduling obstacles during their rehearsal process. Despite these roadblocks, the cast felt that their show’s final product was ultimately representative of their efforts. “We had a lot of fun during this process, and it was hard with the

strike, we all had trouble adjusting to that, but we adjusted together,” said Besev. “I think you could see on stage that we had that bond and that we knew what we were doing with each other.”

Besev’s sentiment was echoed by Steenstrup, who added that the sketch “Smooch,” was “perfect” despite being finalized a week before opening night due to time constraints. 

To satisfy the show’s extensive range of sketches and comedic content, an elaborate ensemble was called for. Thus, many cast members took on multiple roles throughout the show, all requiring their own personalities. “I try to bring maximum energy to the stage every time, but for each sketch, it really depends because you have to bring energy towards your character,” said sophomore Jacob Brown, a cast member. “If you’re playing a toddler, like I do, you have to bring energy as in like toddler energy, where it’s sometimes crazy but also emotional at the same time, where then if you’re playing like a big jock, you have to bring a completely different energy.”

Reprising the theme of “Gen Z” comedy was a sketch called “Boston Tea Party.” Written and performed by sophomore Jordan Andrews, the sketch took its name literally, providing audience members with an

inside look into the historic event. However, instead of looking at the event in a more serious light, it displayed three colonists gossiping about various dramas of the period: “Is it just me or is King George being a total you-know-what about this? Like hello, we need our tea time,” said Andrews. Reilly played a colonist who took their situation much more seriously, seemingly stuck in his own world again. After misinterpreting different slang terms such as slaying, eating, and serving, Reilly stepped up on a platform, unexpectedly revealing his secret identity: RuPaul Revere.

Providing audience members with an inexplicable combination of laughter, joy, and overall entertainment, Nitrous Oxide was a success. However, the show’s cast was able to do more than stir up laughs; Throughout the process, cast members were able to build bonds that not only benefited them but ultimately strengthened the show. 

“I personally just had a huge trust in my cast, and I knew that if we messed up a line or something, someone could improvise and make the scene even funnier than what was on script,” said Besev. 

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