Care for a Qrumpet!?: BLS Theatre Takes the Stage


Ash Albert (I) clutches two freshly toasted crumpets. (Photo Credit: Alex Strand (I))

Earlier this March, Boston Latin School’s very own theatre group collectively presented their fourth production of the school year, Qrumpet!. Directed by Kyler Hoogendoorn-Ecker (I), Ethan Mostoslavsky (I) and BLS theatre teacher Mr. Joseph Gels, the play’s plot follows the plight of a group of scientists who seek to prove the scientific theory of quantum tunneling by repeatedly throwing crumpets at a wall. By the end of the performance, chaos ensues, delighting audience members with its eccentric hilarity.

A unique play by all definitions of the word, Qrumpet! maintained its audience’s attention from beginning to end, never quite revealing what would happen next. From the absence of dialogue, dramatic use of sound and light and consistent dismantling of the fourth wall, Qrumpet! created palpable tension without saying a word. The show’s actors unanimously testified that such a performance was not easy to achieve. Erika Monteiro Tavares (IV) highlights the difficulty of “figuring out how to act with our expressions and physicality” instead of speech — arguably the greatest obstacle of them all.

Given the minimal dialogue, the actors’ use of props was instrumental in delivering comedic effects. From the bike that controlled the lights of the show to the seemingly endless amounts of butter used in each trial of the experiment, actors masterfully incorporated every prop into the performance.

Actor and crew member Mitchell Phesay (II) shares the challenges that surrounded the cast’s inclusion of the props: “The most challenging part was probably the clean-up, whether that be getting butter off the wall, butter off of shoes, or butter off of anything else, and doing all that with butter in my socks. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” The unusual components that Qrumpet! combined with the passion and enthusiasm of the cast and crew ultimately melted together like butter, ensuring the play’s success.

Qrumpet!’s audience mirrored this enthusiasm. The show called for audience participation throughout its duration to supplement the absence of dialogue. When the bell to deliver a crumpet for a new trial is rung and a crumpet is nowhere to be found, the audience is faced with the realization that something must replace it — something that may not exist on the stage.

During the performance on March 3, the actors invited one lucky audience member to sacrifice a shoe for the sake of “science,” to be buttered by the scientists and take the place of the experiment’s test crumpet. Throughout the entirety of the play, as the scientists’ experiment is compromised by a variety of factors ranging from the consequences of a faulty pen, to the absence of crumpets to throw at the studied wooden wall or even a missing checker, they turn to the audience for help, creatively breaking the fourth wall. These interactions were praised by audience members.

Kyra Huynh (V) enjoyed the actors’ reaction to the unexpected fill-in for their test subject, saying, “Honora’s [face] when she [was] handed the butter and [the] shoe [was] true gold.”

Qrumpet! is certainly a play like no other, involving an experiment throwing crumpets against a wall to the buttering of an audience member’s shoe, all within the 40-minute runtime. Mr. Gels reflects on the unique adventure of shaping Qrumpet! with the production’s cast and crew: “​​[Qrumpet!] is a really unique show, and that is part of why I wanted to do it. Our audiences will probably never again see a play that is quite like it, and I think that’s really fun.”

On March 4, BLS Theatre took Qrumpet! to the Massachusetts High School Drama Festival, where they were selected as one of the four acts to advance to the semifinal round. The cast and crew members of the show were also rewarded with ten individual awards. Then, on March 18, the show moved onto the final round of the competition, which will take place from March 30 to April 1. If you haven’t yet, be sure to catch Qrumpet! live then.