Secrets, Betrayal, and 70's Rock

Review of Feathers and Teeth presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre.

Written by Makenna English during TeenTix’s Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

James Schilling as Hugo and Rachel Guyer Mafune as Chris in WE Ts Feathers and Teeth Credit Chris Bennion
James Schilling as Hugo and Rachel Guyer Mafune as Chris in WE Ts Feathers and Teeth. Photo credit: Chris Bennion

A sinister secret within a traditional family dynamic, or is it all just a paranoia-filled quest for vengeance? Feathers and Teeth, by Charise Castro Smith and directed by Bobbin Ramsey, was a 70’s-esque thriller that embodied the eerie vibes in Hamlet, Hereditary, Pet Cemetery and It Follows that both theater and horror fanatics will love.

Feathers and Teeth, a suspenseful story involving a nuclear family in the 70s, leads the audience down a twisted backstory. Events and secrets are revealed, accusations introduced and action taken by the teen protagonist Christine, who is played by Rachel Guyer-Mafune who has a grudge for her becoming spunky step-mom Carol, played by Samie Spring Detzer.

A puddle of blood and a few bones were the only gory visuals in this play, while the blood-curdling screams and ravenous animal sounds ate audiences up. This came as a surprise because audiences were expecting a “horror” show that was advertised in their programs. The minimal blood shown in the play didn't live up to the “gore” audiences were anticipating. However, the play had audiences on the edge of their seat while playfully laughing at certain comedic references such as dad jokes told by Arthur, played by Brandon J. Simmons and character Hugo, played by James Schilling. Thus, making a more suspenseful-thriller genre than a slasher horror, although the mood still goes strongly within the play.

Rachel Guyer-Mafune stars as Chris in WET's Feathers and Teeth. Photo credit: Chris Bennion.

The play uses animation to express memories of the past that are simultaneously told by Christine, a mourning 13 year old girl rebelling her new parent, driven by paranoia and vengeance for her deceased mother who died two months prior. This visual is a new and creative feature that brings an exciting vibe to theater. It would have been interesting to see the actors act out the flashbacks of the past, the animation did not take anything away from the story or interest of Christine as the physical acting might have. Especially if they wanted to keep the image of Elle, the deceased mother of Christine, a mystery. Overall, Feathers and Teeth is an exciting experience sprinkled with light humor, creepy mood changes, and new-age visuals that keep audiences talking days after seeing it.

Lead photo caption: James Schilling as Hugo and Rachel Guyer-Mafune as Chris in WET's Feathers and Teeth. Photo credit: Chris Bennion


Makenna English is a 12th grader at Decatur High School.

This review was written as part of the Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about other Press Corps programs including the Teen Editorial Staff or the TeenTix Newsroom, see HERE.

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