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aha1 makes an honest piece of improvisational theater



Presented by MIT Dramashop.

Tonight through Saturday,

8 pm, Kresge Little Theatre.



LOCK SEVEN MIT STUDENTS IN A room over IAP, shake vigorously, and you get a lot of talk about -- guess what?

One might object that there is nothing newsworthy about this experiment, but there are some unusual parameters. The seven students have a good deal of talent, the locked room is a theatre, and the discussion has been summarized into a performance on view tonight in Kresge Little Theatre.

The seven performers of aha! spent IAP discussing life and their personal experiences and devising improvisational theatre games based on them. With the assistance of Aaron McPherson, they have distilled the resulting data down to two dozen scenes. While each scene addresses the nature of love in some way, the specifics range from babes in arms to young adults, from sexual love to love for romance novels, writing, or physics. The scenes vary greatly in interest, but there are many which stuck in my mind.

A. J. Babineau '90 performed a series of monologues about being addicted to Harlequin romances and Jackie Collins. Babineau also delighted with a scene about scoping men on the T, and a rap performance of Shakespeare's 57th sonnet, "Being your slave. . . " The borrowing from Shakespeare provided a welcome infusion of heavier material into the evening, as did Michael Malak's ('89) reading of Dylan Thomas' poem "In my Craft or Sullen Art."

Perhaps the strongest moments of the evening were the times when one actor took center stage for a heartfelt monologue. Kelly Marold '91 talked about watching her boyfriend shaving in the mornings, while George Madrid '91 talked feelingly about his relationship with his girlfriend.

It takes great courage for actors to stand under a spotlight in front of 200 people, some strangers and some friends, and talk about their personal lives. It is this level of spotlighted, almost painful honesty which makes the evening succeed.

Where it fails is in the fragmentary nature of the performance, which has no plot, few developed characters other than those of the actors themselves, and not even a strong defining theme. Other than the broadly encompassing ideas of love and relationships, there is nothing holding the evening together very strongly.

The title aha! refers to a moment of sudden understanding and clarity. However, there is only one event in the evening labeled as an "aha!" experience, and few enough others which might qualify. It is only one of a number of unexplored alleys.

It is impossible to single out members of the cast for praise, since the work is by its very nature an ensemble piece, and all of the performances are fine. In addition to those mentioned, the performers are Derek Clark '89, Joanna Kulik '92, and Ian Dowell '86, who provided guitar accompaniment and incidental music. There is very little in the way of sets and properties; the cast is more or less on its own, yet they hold our attention without difficulty.

aha! manages to succeed as a performance despite being short on script, primarily because of the searing honesty of the words and the professionalism of the cast. If you can stand to take time out of your own busy relationship for an hour and a half of honesty, aha! is the place to go.