Written by Georg Buchner
Trans. by John Mackendrick
Directed by Jonny Wilder
The play had a haunting beginning with all the characters speaking at the same time around the theater. There was also some singing, by characters Marie (Melissa Farris) and Margaret (Ande Hawkins). While I usually think a capella singing in an otherwise non-musical production is risky, these two sang really well, and it did add to the haunting effect.
I have to admit, I was at first skeptical, when I walked into the theater and saw a bare set. Sure, there were stools. There were curtains. But that was all.
However, the bare set was compensated for in the form of light and sound. The deepening shades of red throughout the play during key scenes worked to signify violence and – later – crime.
As for the acting, the players performed mostly well. I don’t think the text of the play gave them much to work with. That’s the trouble: Some things get lost in translation. The Doctor (Danny Jones) stole the show with his scenes. Alex Trevino as the Drum Major made the audience successfully uneasy in his performance.
THE RED PEPPERS (MJT)
Written by Noel Coward
Directed by Matthew Quinn
Now, this was – to quote a friend – “so Matt Quinn!” Truer words were never spoken. This studio was hilarious, very animated and even musical.
William Amorella and Shannon Ryan did a fantastic job portraying the bickering married couple George and Lily Pepper. They had great chemistry on stage, and their joke-delivery was well timed. Not only that: Their singing and dancing was wonderfully comical. The choreography (by Megan Peterson) was highly appropriate to the tone of the play.
The set was incredibly well thought-out, as were the costumes – very convincing of the time period the play was set in.
My only complaint is that it was too short.
Written by Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Thomas Sorensen
This was a truly great play. It was cerebral, and when I go to Margaret Jonsson Theater, I prefer to see something that’s going to make me keep thinking about it afterwards.
The fog created backstage and the background sounds of water splashing were effective in making it look as if the theater were at sea, but without even the slightest draft in the building the audience could not truly sense it. The costumes (my friends and I were convinced that the Poet was wearing a Dr. Hatlie scarf) and the set contributed well to the feel of the sea and the time period.
The acting on the parts of Christopher Jameson (The Business Man) and Nick Catanese (The Poet) was phenomenal – they had a great push-and-pull – much like the water beneath them. The two took turns being the voices of optimism and pessimism.
The resolution of the piece was well played with its bitter yet poignant ending; this production was highly successful in sending a heartrending message to the audience.
ART (Drama Building)
Written by Yasmina Reza
Trans. by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Colleen Ahern
Coupled with the junior art majors’ spring show, this set was successful in placing the audience in a chic art collector’s setting. The soundtrack, unless I’m quite mistaken, was Vince Guaraldi Trio-esque: a perfect fit for this studio.
At the heart of the play was the white painting with white lines; before the show, it had been hanging alongside the paintings in the art exhibit. The comedic timing of the players was flawless (notably the “read Seneca” scene). The characters were absolutely outrageous, but in some ways very believable – they were exaggerations of very real personalities.
Like real people, they argue, they make fun of each other’s faults, they try to place blame on each other – and it all centers on this piece of modern “art.” Serge (Brian Ahern) spent 200,000 francs on the painting and thinks it was painted “by a god,” Marc (Blake Ballard) is the skeptic and resents Serge for buying it, and Ivan (Jonny Wilder) can’t decide whose side to take.
This play has its comical points, but it also deals with the deeper theme of human friendship. I also think that, at the Univeristy of Dallas, students rarely study modern art. In fact, many of them brush it off as unimportant. While the integrity of this white-on-white painting is left in question, we come out of the theater realizing that arguing heatedly about what art is may not be the most constructive way to spend our time.