T★eater Review Three Nights of One-Act Plays Delight Audience
‘Vice Play’ Headlines Dramashop’s Student-Written, Student-Produced Plays
One Acts 2007
Kresge Little Theatre
Nov. 8–10, 8 p.m.
Written by Justine Spingler (Emerson)
Directed by Usman O. Akeju ’08
Starring: Gabrielle Abousleman (Wellesley), Kelly A. Thomas ’08, and Rachel Nagin (Wellesley)
Written by Rony D. Kubat G
Directed by Emilie Slaby
Starring: Jiho Lee ’08, Amelia R. Browning ’11, and Paul D. Welle ’11
Written by Sally E. Peach ’09
Directed by Danbee Kim ’09
Starring: Sean P. Faulk ’11, Nicolina A. Akraboff ’08, Monica F. Kahn ’10, and Alaina Hourigan
Happily Ever After
Written by Shelly Manber ’08
Directed by Yuri A. Podpaly G
Starring: Yekaterina Radul ’11 and Erika L. Bakse ’08
Adult confusion gave way to youthful exuberance, followed by acknowledged vices and finishing with emerging disillusionment, in Dramashop’s annual student-written, student-directed One Acts. Even with a minimalist approach to scenery and costumes, the actors and directors created a memorable atmosphere that was at times ethereal, at others bizarre, and always mysterious.
The hit of the night was “Vice Play,” written by Sally E. Peach ’09 and directed by Danbee Kim ’09 (also a Tech cartoonist), which personified nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and marijuana. The play alternated between crackling intensity and casual conversation, throwing out declarations about human nature. “I tend to believe that some of the best things in life are toxic. They are practically sacred because we can only consume them in small quantities before they consume us,” Marijuana said while making a rare meaningful comment.
Sean P. Faulk ’11 played Nicotine perfectly, his calm demeanor broken up by occasional wild outbursts. Particularly impressive were Faulk’s monologues and his interactions with Alaina Hourigan, who convincingly portrayed a charming and enabling Alcohol.
Monica F. Kahn ’10 was perfect as a dazed Marijuana, drawing out words and staring dreamily at the audience. Nicolina A. Akraboff ’08 was not as memorable as Caffeine, but that was largely because her biggest scene was dominated by Nicotine’s split personality.
The other standout play was “Square One,” written by Emerson student Justine Spingler and directed by Usman O. Akeju ’08, supposedly based on a true story of a supernatural event that the participants could not recall and its aftermath. The series of monologues, delivered by Kelly A. Thomas ’08 and Wellesley students Gabrielle Abousleman and Rachel Nagin, were accented by a stark set of black-and-white pictures projected onto a screen in the background.
Abousleman delivered her lines with conviction but seemed to overplay the words sometimes. Nagin was particularly adept at portraying a 17-year-old boy angry at the world, snarling and swearing throughout her speech. Thomas used an appropriately bewildered tone in giving her monologue, highlighting her speech with frustrated motions as she moved around the stage.
The second play, “Incendiary Evidence,” featured two parts and sandwiched “Vice Play.” The piece, which is being “workshopped” through Dramashop for a later performance, began with three high school kids attempting to put together a rocket. The script, written by Rony D. Kubat G, was heavily improvised under director Emilie Slaby’s watch.
The first part was amusing, as the actors — Jiho Lee ’08, Amelia R. Browning ’11, and Paul D. Welle ’11 — maneuvered around the stage and around the theater, throwing around nerdy jokes and running around crazily.
However, despite being the shortest play of the evening, the second part managed to confuse much of the audience because it lacked a plot (or much direction at all, really). Despite that flaw, the actors acquitted themselves well.
The ironically-titled “Happily Ever After” featured Erika L. Bakse ’08 as a feminist Rapunzel whose famous locks were wrapped into a tight bun. Rapunzel spent the bulk of the play trying to convince an acquiescent Cinderella, played by Yekaterina Radul ’11, that living “happily ever after” was just a delusion. This one-act was written by Shelly Manber ’08 and directed by Yuri A. Podpaly G.
The premise of a fractured fairy tale is a tried and true one, to be sure, but “Happily Ever After” had several places where it looked like Rapunzel and Cinderella would end their conversation and thus the play. Instead, the discussion resumed after somewhat awkward, contrived comments.
As a result, the many clever lines — in response to Cinderella’s awkward small talk about Rapunzel’s hair, Rapunzel said, “Oh, it grew to its full length again last year, but I donated it to Locks of Love. I’m waiting for a couple more yards before I donate again.” — lost much of their impact, which was a shame.
At the conclusion of the four plays, the actors, playwrights, and directors assembled onstage to answer questions about acting, writing, directing, and occasionally life in general. Playwright Peach was the recipient of the latter category: she was asked to identify her personal vice.
In response, Peach said, “Vices don’t matter that much; it’s just a matter of what you do. People all end up in the same place; it’s just a matter of how fast you get there,” and coyly declined to name hers.
Later, Hourigan fielded a question about how she portrayed Alcohol so well, to which she drolly replied, “Method acting.”