The Horrible and the Miserable tops one-acts
Presented by MIT Dramashop.
Out of the Woods by Jonathan B. Amsterdam G; Dolphin Dancing by Elisabeth A. Stock '90; and The Horrible and the Miserable by Glen D. Weinstein '92.
Kresge Little Theatre, May 3-5.
By KEVIN FRISCH
THREE ONE-ACTS, all written, acted, and directed by students, comprised Dramashop's weekend show.
The first play -- Out of the Woods, by Jonathan B. Amsterdam G -- is about three college graduates with pasts intertwined, spending time together in a secluded country home in upstate New York. The play focuses on Gary (Ryun J. Yu '93), and what can best be stated as his general confusion about his life.
While all the actors seemed comfortable, there were many times when they delivered their lines stiffly, as if they were neophytes to the stage. Yet as the play progressed, an appropriate feeling of awkwardness between the characters developed. This was done through well-timed pauses, slight changes in expression, and a host of other methods that were hardly noticeable at all, but still led the audience to feel the uneasiness among the characters. This could only have been accomplished through a combination of excellent directing by Kelly J. Marold '91 and Julie A. Schmittdiel '91, and well-tuned acting. Why so many of the simple lines were stiffly delivered, while the much harder task of conveying the awkwardness of certain moments of the play was accomplished so skillfully, remains a mystery <>
As the second one-act play -- Dolphin Dancing, by Elisabeth A. Stock '90 -- began, I thought it was going to be on the clich'ed subject of death, and how various people deal with it. But I was happy to find that, though somewhat clich'ed, the play did have several original twists to it.
The story focuses on Trent (Jason M. Satterfield '90), who has lived a sheltered life taking care of his father, just deceased. As he sits on his private beach, angry at the world that he never knew, a girl he has never seen approaches him and insists on getting to know him. The play consists mainly of Trent being slowly pulled from his shell until, finally, he abandons it completely.
Unfortunately, this play did not "click" as the other two did. Satterfield, whom I hear was excellent in Cloud 9, failed to make me really feel for him. Although his lines were delivered with the full range of emotions, I found it hard to believe that he was really feeling all these things. The part of Lillian, played by Susan E. Kim '90, was exaggerated to such an extent that I had a hard time understanding why the lines were not altered in some way as to make the character seem believable. This is something that the director, Sasha K. Wood '93, should have picked up on.
The play, in general, was lacking the stamp of a strong director -- even the blocking was plagued with many extraneous movements about the stage. The shining moments were when the beachwatchman, played by Albert W. Morton Jr. '92, limped onto the stage to steal the show for a moment. This was a perfect character-actor match -- clearly Morton just walked onto the stage and said whatever he wanted -- with spectacular results.
Though there was perhaps a good idea behind the script somewhere, by the time it came to the stage it was buried from sight. I did enjoy Dolphin Dancing, but the high potential that it had was not realized.
The Horrible and the Miserable, by Glen D. Weinstein '92, was a cut above the first two plays. Although the storyline -- about a teenage couple going through the fairly common problems of a relationship -- is none too original, the playwright quite obviously had firsthand knowledge with the situation. Thus many parts of the play not only ring true, but the audience, all having been adolescents (presumably), could associate with them.
The couple -- Glen and Ann, played by Craig E. White '93 and Barbara K. Moore G -- gave a narrative of the relationship, each telling his/her own feelings about specific events, and then "flashing back" to play out those scenes. This worked very nicely, allowing the audience see how each character developed a different feeling through the same event. And of course no story of a couple would be complete without an "evil" outside entity of sorts. In this case there were three different characters, all played very nicely by Melissa E. Lucarelli '90.
This is an excellent play, especially considering that well over half of it consists of monologues, notoriously difficult to pull off. Between skillful acting by White and Moore, and excellent directing by C. Hoyt Bleakley '93, I never found my thoughts wandering from the stage as so often happens when I'm confronted by excessive monologuing.
I should add that at the end of the show, actors, directors, and writers, all came out, sat on the apron, and fielded questions from the audience. These ranged from simple ones concerning the plot to more involved ones about the theme and such. As always, it was fun to see actors out of character, being normal people. The audience was then led into another room for refreshments and informal chatting with cast members. Overall, it was a well thought-out and well-executed evening.