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Theater Review: ...The Old Law... of Dramashop Holds True

Off-kilter Comedy is Well-acted and Visually Elegant

By Parama Pal

The Old Law

Dramashop

Directed by Max Hafler

With Kenneth Roraback ’06, Elvie Stephanopoulos ’07, Ryan Hendrickson ’07, Yuri Podpaly ’07

Kresge Little Theater

Feb. 9-11 and 16-18, 2006

Based on a play from the 1600s, Dramashop’s production of “The Old Law” explores what happens to a fictitious society when it creates a new law decreeing that all men over the age of 80 and all women over the age of 60 are to be put to death. What follows is materialism and chaos run amok in the form of youth, with a small minority struggling against a world that seems to have been turned upside down. One son hides his father, while another rushes his to the grave in anticipation of inheritance. A young wife begins entertaining suitors before her husband actually reaches his critical age. Young people begin to fill many influential positions in society, as their previous occupants are put to death. The play, though it did have an important point, was too repetitive in emphasizing it. It became predictable, and even the twist at the end did not come as a shock.

The cast did an excellent job in spite of the pedantic script, conveying emotions well and keeping the audience focused with good expression and excellent use of the set. Despite being three hours long, the story was well told; scenes flowed quickly, preserving an element of surprise and keeping exhaustion at bay. One notable touch was the versatile set, which gave the audience the feeling of being involved in the show: actors entered through the back of the room and passed directly by the viewers.

Speaking of notable, Kenneth Roraback ’06, Elvie Stephanopoulos ’07, and Ryan Hendrickson ’07 deserve special applause. Roraback in particular was successful in making his character sincere and sympathetic, crucial to the role. Yuri Podpaly ’07, by contrast, was over the top. He deserves commendation for his enthusiasm and humor in a difficult role as the villain, but sometimes went too far, so that the portrayal became two-dimensional.

The colorful, bright, and sharp costumes complemented the stark set perfectly. The minimalist set encouraged the audience to focus on the actors and story. Dramashop’s music and choreography were also enjoyable, effectively lightening the atmosphere of an otherwise highly dramatic and tragic play. With these touches, it’s clear that the show is above all a satirical comedy.

Dramashop’s performance thoroughly proves the point raised by “The Old Law”: the elderly deserve respect, and the wisdom garnered from life experience is essential to the functioning of society. Though the script’s message was overemphasized, the actors did an excellent job with what they had.