REVIEW:Theater presents two weekends of student-produced one-act plays

As part of requirements for graduation, seven theater seniors individually produced one-act plays that they presented to the public on the weekends of April 15 and 22. Seniors were supposed to use all the skills they have learned up to this point and incorporate them into the play they chose to direct. The directors were in charge of holding auditions, choosing actors, and gathering props. 

Slipping Him the Tongue by Mark Aloysius Kenneally, directed by Maddison Gould

Slipping Him the Tongue is set inside the trailer home of a redneck, Wally, played by business marketing freshman Kaleb Collins. His girlfriend Doris, played by theater freshman Tessa Rae Dschaak, fancies the literature of Shakespeare while Wally and Raimie, played by theater freshman Addrian S. Gaut Jr. do not. This comedic play sets up two days of misery for Wally and Raimie. After cursing Shakespeare’s name, a curse seems to be set upon Wally the first day, and Raimie the next. The two cannot help but communicate without speaking like Shakespeare.

Collins and Gaut do a good job of keeping the redneck accent while simultaneously speaking words of Shakespeare.  The only person who can translate what they are saying into present day English is their old high school teacher, Ms. Ingrid Freedman, played by Autumn Dahl. When she comes over, everything seems to be fine until Wally starts talking, after that, Ms. Freedman can’t seem to hide the fact that she is sexually aroused by the way he spoke. At that point the crowd was half silent and half laughing at her reaction. Either way, Dahl portrayed this …character full on without an inch of embarrassment.

Road Trip, written by Neil LaBute, directed by Crystal Carter

In this scene, a guy and a girl have just escaped the ties of school, responsibility and the law. They have been driving for quite a while and from the beginning, something seems very odd about the guy, played by Xavier Alexander. It wasn’t until halfway through the scene I realized the guy was a teacher and the girl, played by theater sophomore Alyssa Villanueva, was a student. As the car ride continues, they talk to each other about school, soccer and food. The teacher is uncomfortably nice to the student as they talk. And when she starts says something he doesn’t like, he gets an edge to his voice then calms down. She has no idea where they are going besides the fact that he told her it was a secluded location where no one would find them. She is content with the whole situation, but there is still a sense of awkward between the two.

This dialogue did not seem believable. The two of them looked as if they were going on a date for the first time and every word sounded as if it was being read straight from the script. The two actors could have delivered their characters in a way that made the viewer understand that the student was just and innocent girl, and the teacher was obviously a creep. But it didn’t seem as if they believed that enough, and neither did I.

 The Green Hill by David Ives, directed by Kristin Lanier

The last play was about a man, Jake, played by theater freshman Joey McGinn, searching for a green hill that he had never been to before but for some reason, everything about it is so familiar and seems so real. He narrates everything that he went through trying to find this hill, while the scenes play out as if looking at a flashback. His character was upbeat and hopeful but his partner, Sandy, played by pre psychology major Kendall Nelms, could only keep up her optimism for him for so long until she couldn’t take it anymore. After a long time she leaves him while he is still looking for the hill. Years pass by as he has been to Finland, Germany, Switzerland and many other places. He meets thirteen different characters throughout his journey, which were all played by theater freshman Clay Tabor and theater sophomore Kaylor Winter-Roach. He still can’t find the one hill he is looking for but instead finds many other ones. After he has given up, he heads home and by the time he is home, he recites the opening lines and seems to have finally found the green hill, and this time the woman is there with him.

It seems as if he was searching for death and I am led to believe that the woman died awhile ago and that is why he sees her with him in the last vision. This one was kind of hard to follow, but McGinn and Nelms played their parts well and each emotion was understood clearly as the play progressed. For Tabor and Winter-Roach, playing about six different characters all in one play must have been a challenge, but they transitioned into each different character with ease. The different accents that Tabor and Winter-Roach had could have been a bit more enhanced. Other than that, the play was descriptive, colorful, and kept up good energy the whole time.  

Smitten by Anna Stillaman and Mark Matthews, directed by Timothy Tetreaux

This play was particularly interesting because of the dark romance between Nichola, played by theater sophomore Ellanor Collins, and Peter, played by theater sophomore Shannon Howerton. Both Nichola and Peter have been meeting in secret as Nichola had been cheating on her husband. It has been going on for awhile to the point that they are both deeply in love with each other so much that they would kill…literally.

From the beginning, Howerton’s character is very mysterious and seemed untrustworthy. On the other hand, Collins’ character was passionate and deep, that was until the very end when we find out she is just as demented as Peter, considering they both poisoned each other at dinner in the hopes of preserving their partners’ body parts for reasons only the two twisted characters could explain. I was impressed by how well Collins kept up her innocent act, because by the end I was truly surprised to find out that her character had also poisoned Peter as well. As for Peter, I think the way his character was portrayed couldn’t have been done any other way. He was the perfect distraction up until the last moments of a clever plot twist.

Hello Out There by William Saroyan, directed by Michael Gilbert

This play definitely held the most suspense out of all of them. The dialogue between a girl, played by theater junior Rachel Innes, and an imprisoned young man, played by theater sophomore Jonathan Stone, held my attention the whole time.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well each of them kept up the energy for a situation that could have been uninteresting if it weren’t for the fact that the young man wanted so much for this ordinary girl that he had only just met. It made me wonder if he was only speaking so nicely to her just so she would let him out. Because of the unfortunate ending, the crowd was left to make their own assumptions about that question. Apparently he was in jail for raping a married woman, played by english freshman Margaret Greenhalgh, and the husband, played by theater freshman Jacob Turnbow, was out to seek revenge and kill the young man. Although the man and woman did not come in until the very end, the man’s role especially was the turning point of the play. And when he held the gun in his hand, Turnbow delivered this part in a way that if I didn’t know the gun was fake, I would be fearing for my own life. That was up until he actually fired the gun, the sounds were obviously fake, almost too fake, that the sound of a balloon popping would have at least made me jump a little in my seat.

North of Providence by Edward Allen Baker directed by Drew Davison

As the low-life brother Bobbie, played by theater freshman Joey McGinn who was also in the play The Green Hill, mopes around in his room, his nagging sister Carol, played by theater senior Stephanie Ouimet, comes to visit him. This is no loving brotherly/sisterly visit. Carol is determined for Bobbie to get his life back together and figure out why he won’t try to make something better of himself. Since it is set in Rhode Island, their Yankee accents were thick. This was one thing I was critical of the whole time because this was the only play besides Slipping Him the Tongue that required thick accents throughout the entire play. I was truly impressed by how well McGinn and Ouimet carried the Yankee talk, and not only that but the chemistry between them as siblings was spot on. Because of that, the parts where Carol would yell at Bobbie made his remorse seem very real.

Happy Hour by Neil LaBute, director Sarah Chong Harmer

This was a dialog between a married man, Ted, played by theater freshman Dean Hart, and a single woman, Cleo, played by english freshman Kalli Root. Ted was with business partners at a club and, after getting of the phone with his fiance, he notices a young woman across the dance floor. In the club setting, Harmer incorporated disco lights and background music to make the club scene look more authentic. Other than the fact that Hart and Root were the only actual actors on the set, this setting was one of my favorites. Their conversation was light for the most part, until they started discussing a hypothetical situation where Cleo wanted to know what Ted would do if she asked him to sleep with her. Until the end of the play, this is what they discussed for about 15 minutes. Finally, Cleo admitted that she knew Ted’s fiance and was testing him to see if he would actually go through with it. I was not expecting that at all. However the hypothetical situation seemed to drag on just a little bit too long that I began to lose interest in how he answered the question.