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Group 2 – ‘Escape Room,’ finding the rhyme in crime


Kinley Gomez was one of four writers who participated in Lab Theater’s 24-Hour Screenwriting Challenge. You mean playwriting, right? No, for safety reasons, the 24-Hour Playwriting Project was modified this year to the 24-Hour Screenwriting Project. It has also been converted into a virtual fundraiser for the theater, inviting patrons to “vote” for their favorite short film, cast or writer via the ticketing portal with a donation of any amount.

Kinley is known locally as a talented actor, but she’s also spent some time as an ersatz screenwriter. In fact, the Canterbury School senior was among a handful of talented applicants who participated over this past summer in the University of Southern California’s vaunted advanced summer screenwriting program (which went virtual due to COVID-19). So what better way to hone her skills and test her mettle than participate in Lab Theater’s 24-Hour Screenwriting Project?

You’d think that the prospect of creating a screenplay for a 5-8 minute continuous-shot film in a mere ten hours would be a daunting prospect for a first-time screenwriter, but Kinley didn’t just construct a plot, characters and dialogue. She solved her crime in rhyme.

The setting for Kinley’s film is an escape room.

Escape rooms are the rage across the United States. If you’re not familiar, they’re an on-site game in which two or more players cooperatively discover clues, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to make their escape within a limited amount of time. There are 36 escape rooms available in and around Fort Myers alone. Themes range from Area 52 (where you have 60 minutes to get the scoop on a hostage alien) and Heist at the Grand Hotel (involving a stolen diamond) to Edison vs. Tesla (where you have 60 minutes to find uncover Tesla’s missing patents in an unlisted private residence that Thomas Edison maintained), Burlesque (uncover the culprit skimming from Big Al at the glorious Burlesque Show Moulin) and Sherlock’s Secret (which is pretty rad considering that one of the lines of dialogue that Kinley and her fellow screenwriters had to use in their films was “No shit, Sherlock”).

The first thing you’ll notice when you watch Gomez’s Escape Room is that her participants, portrayed by Misha Ritter-Polomsky and April Polomsky, bicker more than they cooperate. But even as they fuss and holler at each other, they somehow manage to discover a variety of clues that have been left in odd places (such as behind throw pillows, under seat cushions and on the floor beneath a throw rug).

Escape room clues typically include words, numbers, and symbol puzzles (such as substitution cyphers), riddles, crosswords, Sudoku, word search, and mathematics. Given the brevity of the films, which could not exceed eight minutes in length, Kinley opted to present her clues in verse. The first clue, for example, states that “If you want to solve the crime, before you run out of time, look under the chair, if you dare.” Gomez immediately pokes fun at herself, having April Polomsky’s character, Becca, kvetch, “It’s not even a good rhyme. They put so little effort into it.”

Beyond the confines of this year’s Challenge, Kinley aspires to write – and perform in – comedic movies in the tradition of those written by and starring the likes of Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Steve Martin. If you’ve seen KG perform at Lab Theater, you might not associate her with comedy, but her family, friends and classmates affectionately refer to her as “the funny one,” and there’s certainly a wry sense of humor (bordering on gallows’ humor) woven into the sharp exchanges between the girls as Becca (April) cracks under the pressure of the time constraints imposed by the game.

Go here for more on how Kinley’s set her sights on film.

And here for her stage credits and other accomplishments.

Congratulations to Dave Pimental for an excellent job directing and shooting the film.

Kudos also go out to 24-Hour Screenwriting Coordinator Char Loomis, Jonathan Johnson for lighting and sound and to Paula Sisk for video and IT support.

You can see the film here.

And the way you vote for the film, Kinley Gomez and the Pimental, Ritter-Polomsky-Polomskyy group is with your donation. The highest grossing film wins, with the announcement being made via Facebook Live at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday night.

November 27, 2020.

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