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Dramashop presents a bellyful of laughs

The MIT Dramashop opened their Evening of One Act Plays last night; there are repeat performances tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 pm in Kresge Little Theatre. Admission is free and open to the public. Each performance is followed by a critique and coffee hour to which the audience is invited.

Dramashop's latest productions are very well-executed and entertaining, and I urge everyone in need of a good bellylaugh to attend. Two one-act plays are presented: Halftime at Halcyon Days by Carol K. Mack, and The Apollo of Bellac by Jean Giraudoux. Both plays are full of action, and have the rare quality of keeping the audience's attention throughout most of the two-hour performance.

The show began with Halftime at Halcyon Days, a play depicting the collapse of a ridiculously fanatical health spa of that name. Although it at times makes an attempt to be dramatic and serious in its criticism of the catatonic mental state encouraged by the spa, the play's best moments are humorous. Occasionally it drags a little, especially during the exercise scenes, but it is otherwise funny.

The spa itself is a major source of the humor in this play. A version of Big Brother, more accurately Big Sister, presents its glassy-eyed smile from a video screen as it encourages the members to empty their minds and to remember to breathe. The inane statements mouthed by this vegetable are hilarious.

The characters include Babs, a beautiful perfectionist waging a war against disorder; Cassie, a pretentious, dissatisfied woman who wants to be admired; and Gloria, a plump, satiric critic who mocks everything in an attempt to mask her own feelings of inadequacy. Cheryl McCullum as Babs and Kristi Trostel as Cassie both gave especially believable performances.

The Apollo of Bellac is a comedy that takes a serious look at the subject of physical beauty, while poking fun at human vanity. The play begins with some very funny scenes, including a man's obsession with the beauty of his shadow and the response of a light sculpture to flattery. The drama then develops as we embark on an intense plunge into the soul of a young woman, Agnes, who learns the secret of manipulating men (which I refuse to divulge) -- and then puts it into practice.

After a climactic confrontation with the god of beauty himself, she learns to reassess her perception of beauty. Kerry O'Neill as Agnes, Elizabeth Young as Therese, and Scott Ramsay as the man who reveals the secret to Agnes all were exceptional in their character interpretations. The evening sent the audience away with a smile.

Betty McLaughlin->