Loudoun Valley High School’s Theatre Production of “Leaf”


“From left, Alex Chinn, Joseph Felt, Alexis Davis, Chloe Anderson, Keira Anderson, Michael Jarvis, Caleb Barnett, Sawyer Whiteley, and Samantha Saba perform in Leaf. [Photo By: Diego De La Espriella]” (https://loudounnow.com/2021/12/13/review-leaf-at-loudoun-valley-high-school/)

Eleanor Shaw

Loudoun Valley High School’s (LVHS) production of Leaf rooted itself in the hearts of audiences–no pun intended. A live staged reading of the third and fourth level of LVHS’s theatre class’s original play, Leaf proved to be an enthralling passion project, utilizing a limited environment to the utmost potential and showcasing the show writing skills of the students.

With a narrator recounting the tale of a village torn apart on the brink of an apocalypse-a-plants, we watch as the townspeople struggle to survive. Suddenly, a boy with the rare gift of using magic to manipulate plants, Leaf, is taken in by the captain of the guard. From there, the audience watches–enthralled–as the pain of the past and the fear of the future begin to weigh upon the village and Leaf as the wicked plants close in to seal their doom.

An entirely student lead production, the independence in Leaf‘s creation seemed to be its biggest strength. It was the tight knit ensemble of only eight members, who were on stage the entire time,  and the relationships of the cast and characters that drew audiences in further. While few characters may be the focus of the scene, the students in the background never stopped acting or, if they were “off stage”, they did not distract from the story unfolding in the foreground. This contributed to the immersive aspect of the play, with all assets being used by the students to draw audiences in further.

A standout aspect of how the play was staged was the usage of choreography. This was done through the usage of swords alongside the utilization of foliage. The talents of the student choreographer, Chloe Anderson, further enhanced the way in which the events unfolded and the scenes were moved along, contributing to the building tension throughout the narrative.

Alex Chinn’s performance as Leaf (the previously mentioned user of plant-manipulation magic) shone as the core of the play. Since Leaf is mute for much of the play, Chinn masterfully relied on facial expressions and body language to communicate the subtle complexities of his character. Even with the limitations that came along with donning a mask as a result of COVID-19 protocol, Chinn’s performance as Leaf was wondrous to watch–both in physicality and alongside the rare, yet heartbreaking moments in which the character spoke.

Leaf delivers the unique lesson that there doesn’t always have to be someone to blame in the wake of a tragedy. Within the context of this universe, we see this play out as all parties struggle to survive, using whatever means they saw necessary to ensure they had safety for one more night.

The passion that went into the making of the play presented itself through the captivating nature of the play. Each motion and story beat felt unique and knowing that it was entirely student-produced made it even sweeter. Leaf is well worth the watch and is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.