Directed by Klaudia Leja, Hrant Gharibyan, and Bruno Tambasco
Kresge Little Theater
Nov. 7–9, 2013
Last weekend MIT Dramashop continued a 56-year tradition, presenting one-act plays performed and directed by students. The night included four short plays, ranging from a slightly morbid tale of death and beauty to a comedy/drama between a hobo and an affluent screenplay writer. We walked away entertained, amused, and thoroughly impressed by our theatrically inclined peers.
The Master Poisoner, directed by Klaudia Leja ’14, opened the night. A neurotic apothecary (Tughral A. A. Ali G) and his assistant (Justin T. White ’15) brew a dangerous concoction in an attempt to master death. The poor victim of their schemes (Sara E. Volz ’17) is a disfigured woman, whom the poison transforms into a half-demon, half-goddess. Volz plays the demanding role extraordinarily well. At first a timid cripple, she transforms into a seductress overcome by spasms of evil, shouting at her poisoners in a deep, threatening voice. Her character exemplifies the dangers of toying with death; her violent mood swings keep the audience at the edge of their seats.
Set in mid-20th century Texas, Hello Out There, directed by Hrant Gharibyan ’14, depicts the fast moving relationship between a jailed young man (Paul E. Kreiner ’14) and a young woman working as a cook in the prison (Anna L. Waldo ’14). Although confined to his jail cell, the smooth-talking young man captures the heart of the innocent cook. The two share their tales of loneliness, aspiration, and desperation. The man appears intelligent and quick-witted, if not for the compulsive way he repeats the phrase “Hello out there” to the distance. The audience comes to empathize with both characters. However, their situation, already desperate, takes a violent turn when the man’s jealous enemy storms the jail, murdering him. Heartbroken, the jail worker finds herself alone in the prison cell, uttering “Hello out there” as he once did. Rich with subtleties, the intensely emotional play makes the next act a welcome comedic relief.
Riverside Drive, directed by Bruno D. Tambasco ’15, portrays an encounter between a screenplay writer (Rishabh Bhargava ’15) and his psychopathic stalker (Zoe R. Sheinkopf ’17) at a riverside park. The sound of rushing river water pervades the scene, setting a calming tone to their otherwise uncomfortable confrontation. Clad in a tweed suit, the writer is waiting apprehensively for his mistress when he meets the stalker, Fran. She accuses him of stealing her idea for one of his screenplays. Repulsed by her appearance and apparent insanity, the writer backs away, but her passionate speech slowly degrades his standoffish attitude, and the two develop an unlikely connection. Fran helps him think through his problems with his wife and mistress, but ultimately takes the situation into her own hands, literally, strangling the unfortunate mistress. Sheinkopf played the challenging role to perfection, mesmerizing the audience with her threatening and murderous, yet somehow endearing, character.
Between the plays, we’re kept amused by the banter between a young couple, Ben and Anne (Illan F. Halpern ’14 and Sarine G. Shahmirian ’14), walking through the audience. Their quarrel about their home’s cleanliness turns into a broader discussion about the issues in their relationship. The skit touches on the themes of loneliness and relationship struggles present in the main acts.
Overall the show was thrilling, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining, albeit somewhat morbid. Based on this performance, Dramashop’s spring plays will certainly be something to look forward to.