Rob Sherron, Contributing Writer
Everything can go horribly wrong. A student is tasked with taking a motley crew of mostly inexperienced actors and limited resources, and putting on a play that, in 30 minutes, should bring his University of Dallas career to a stunning climax. If one studio succeeds, we should be thankful. The fact that, for the second time this year, every senior studio was excellent is a testament to the incredible crop of students graduating from the university this year, and specfically these from the drama department.
Amanda Werley’s The Ugly Duckling could have been sappily trite; instead, it was delightfully hilarious. Gus Braga-Henebry’s spectacular sass, Annie Zwerneman’s hilarious haught and Simon Lemaire’s goofy charm (apologies for breaking the pattern; his performance was so good it defied alliteration) contributed to the play’s success. Melissa Farris, however, stole the show as the incredibly quirky valley girl Dulcibella. A small detail: The simple golden, geometrical carpet was beautiful.
Samantha Eberle’s Someone from Assisi could have been boring and self-indulgent; instead, it was a touching meditation on sanity and saintliness, on the essential humanity of our most respected heroes and how they can still be heroic regardless. This was perhaps the most criticized play of the three during this past weekend (which only means that it was criticized at all); however, on the final night, with an energized, full house watching, it was incredibly moving and thought-provoking. In the final moments of the play, Francis leads away his old, troubled lover to (presumably) peace, and the audience is left simply with birdsong and the shadows of trees; this was more than a bit tear-making.
Kate Chiappe’s I’m Dreaming, But Am I? is the one play we see every semester that accomplishes ambitions beyond what a senior studio should be able to achieve. We are all quite aware of the great accomplishments of Aidan Malone and Skyler Patton in mainstages and studios past, and once again they “bring it.” It was a brilliantly executed psychological thriller. In the first half, Malone handled a number of intensely unsettling moments; in the second, the tables turned, and Patton’s Young Lady reveled in her power over those in her life. It was not simply the actors that led to this play’s success; every detail of this complex web of dreams and memories contributed. For example, the opening, which perfectly captured the feel of the horror-movie-jump-cut-scare, features flashes of light and darkness which allow Malone to haunt Patton’s sleeping Lady ever closer, without the audience seeing him move.
The university should be proud that this year, all six seniors were able to achieve such consistent excellence in their productions.