Freshmen bring fresh twist to modern drama in O.A.F.
The Freshman One Act Festival, presented by Theatre Intime, explores feelings of love, joy, hopelessness and longing. Over the course of the four one-act plays, the audience will laugh but will also ponder the nature of humanity and what defines our relationships with each other. Members of the Class of 2016 control all aspects of this production, from directing to managing to acting, and this year’s One Act Festival succeeds in presenting modern drama in a fresh, insightful way.
The first one-act play, “Chicks,” written by Grace McKeaney and directed by Nathalie Ellis-Einhorn ’16, examines the interactions between kindergarten teacher Miss Phallon and her young pupils. The one-act was originally written for one actress to play the part of Miss Phallon on four school days from September to December. Director Ellis-Einhorn casts four different actresses as Miss Phallon, one for each day. Her decision emphasizes the transformation of Miss Phallon. Each actress represents the teacher at a different point in her life, and the physical change in actress draws out the changes the character undergoes. The second Miss Phallon (Clarissa Lotson ’16) is energetic and playful, while the final Phallon (Rachel Newman ’16) is resigned to her situation. Visual cues and shared costumes effectively convey to the audience that the actresses portray the same character, thus avoiding any potential confusion. Filling the space on a stage can be quite difficult, especially when the play requires only one person on stage, but the actresses’ bold strides while scolding errant students and animated lesson discussions make excellent use of the space. Ellis-Einhorn’s adaptation of “Chicks” successfully starts the night with a creative and poignant look at life and its many moods.
“The Universal Language,” written by David Ives, opens as the second play of the night. Adin Walker ’16 directs this piece about the interaction between a con man, who has invented his own language, and his first student. Walker has also chosen to deviate from the original work. Ives’ play examines the romance that blossoms between the con man and his female student; however, both characters are male in Walker’s adaptation. This change represents an interesting idea and a modern portrayal, but it does not necessarily add a new message to the play’s original meaning. It was not clear that learning this language was causing a romance to develop between the teacher and his student until near the end of the act. Despite this obscurity, both Will Plunkett ’16 and Ryan Gedrich ’16 take on their roles with passion. When Plunkett’s con man realizes his attraction to his student, his portrayal of the shift from confidence to repentance is sincere. Gedrich also deserves credit for believably portraying his character’s stutter and attainment of happiness by mastering a new, albeit fake, language. “Universal Language” offers insight into a love story with a modern twist.
Oge Ude ’16 directs the third one-act play, “Interviews with Loneliness,” written by Ann Wuehler. This play features three women in different situations as they share their experiences with the men in their lives with the audience. Annarae (Anna Aronson ’16), a recovering drug addict, wants to give life a “10th chance” by leaving her wayward past and seeking a new life with a man who wants to turn her into a proper woman. At a bar, the lonely Janet (Emily Fockler ’16) waits for her date to arrive and progresses from reassuring herself that he will come to bemoaning her inability to pursue a romantic relationship. Queela, an abused wife (Erin O’Brien ’16), prepares to leave her fifth women’s shelter and return to her husband, whom she inexplicably still loves. This play explores how each of the women covets what another has — Janet longs for Annarae’s glamour, Annarae desires Queela’s constant love, and Queela wants Janet’s independence. Although their situations are vastly different, each actress masterfully integrates herself with the others. Shared lines and gestures physically illustrate their intertwined desires. Ude’s “Interviews with Loneliness” casts a light on the complex relationships women have that are simultaneously unique and shared.
The final act is “The Drunken Sisters,” written by Thornton Wilder and directed by Rachel Wilson ’16. This play takes a modern look at the classical Greek myth of King Admetus and his wife, Alcestis. When the Fates are due to end Admetus’ life, a disguised Apollo schemes to save him. This play is the most lighthearted of the four acts. Evelyn Giovine ’16 demonstrates her versatility as an actress through her portrayals of both Alcestis and the Fate Lachesis. As Alcestis she has a commanding stage presence, giving orders to other characters, while as Lachesis she interacts mischievously with her sisters and Apollo. The way Sam Gelman ’16 portrays Apollo reveals his ability to employ a variety of emotions, ranging from cowering before the drunken Fates to triumphantly revealing his true identity. This final one-act was a successful finale for a highly entertaining night of plays. Princeton’s freshman class shows off its theatrical talent in this One Act Festival, and its production is a must-see.
4 out of 5 paws
Pros: Outstanding acting; fresh look at modern drama
Cons: Occasionally unclear adaptations
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