Review: SOAPs

Ashley Chase, Editor in Chief

At the end of every school year, the theater program always has a group of their senior directors direct their own one act play and perform it for the public in the theater room black box. This year was the first year where I was able to attend all the senior directed one act plays- and they were far better than I could have ever imagined. For those of you who missed some of them, here was what I thought about each of them.

Body Awareness directed by Bradford Smitherman: This play was about a mother struggling with her self worth, her lesbian partner who is a psychologist and preaches against misogyny, their child who adamantly denies he has Asperger’s, and their guest, a photographer who takes pictures of naked women. The play is a little raunchy, but very real and quite humorous, with the straightforward logic and biting sarcasm of the couple’s child cutting to the heart of every problem and bringing humor to every situation. The actors do a good job of playing middle aged characters with vast life experience, and I especially liked the portrayal of the mother, who was a very sympathetic and respectable character.

Star Spangled Girl directed by Colin Brown: This play was about two men living together working for a self published politically radical magazine and scraping the bottom of the barrel. When a gorgeous patriotic swimmer moves in next door, setting the outrageously romantic and sole writer for the magazine’s heart aflutter, the magazine and the lives of all three begin to unravel. The play was about such a simple situation of boy meets girl, but dramatized to the extreme and twisting the laws of attraction against our expectations. The play’s exaggerations of each character’s behavior provided humor throughout the play, and this was possibly the most energetic and expressive cast I saw out of all the plays.

Almost, Maine directed by Brad Borman: This play was about a series of small stories where we see the developing relationships of various characters that live in an imaginary place called Almost in Maine. This play covered every facet of relationships, from moving on from old ones to discovering new ones, from committing to the next step forward to taking a few steps back. The acting was honest and believable from all of the cast, especially considering that many of the actors had to quickly change character between each story that was told. I loved how the stories were so real, yet incorporated bits of symbolism and magic as if they were part of everyday life, such as keeping a broken heart in a bag or the love given in a relationship in plastic bags.

Tribes directed by Shelby Kohn: This play was about the struggles of a family and their youngest son, who is deaf but grew up without learning sign language by learning to read lips instead. When he begins dating a girl who is slowly going deaf, the family becomes more immersed in the deaf community and culture and their bonds with each other are tested. This play was surprisingly realistic and was honest in discussing the hierarchical nature of the deaf community. You could see the different ways each family member expressed their love and the unique struggles each dealt with. I especially was impressed with the amount of sign language some of the actors learned for the sake of the show. Seeing them actually sign to each other and read what they were communicating through the projection behind them gave the audience an added insight to the situation that the other characters didn’t have and gave an authenticity to the show.

Picture of Dorian Gray directed by Grace Massamillio: This play was about the corruption of a beautiful and innocent boy by a jaded aristocrat who preaches the indulgence of despicable things. The boy entraps his soul in a painting of himself in order to preserve his youth eternally and over time, his portrait bears the physical marks of age and sin while the boy himself retains the appearance of youth and innocence. This play was the deepest and darkest of all those I saw. It explored the recesses of the human mind and the blackest parts of human nature without any sugarcoating. There was no humor to taint the serious nature of the play, and rightly so. Each actor did a fabulous job conveying the solemn nature of the play and the message of their character’s flowery prose. I especially appreciated the obvious transformation of the boy from a naive youth to a ruthless, cold hearted man. Such extreme opposites were skillfully portrayed by the actor.