As The Beaver is a play written by Joel Drake Johnson and is the first play to be performed this season in the FreshINK series. The play takes a couple well-known classic sitcoms, such as Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy, and throws them in a real-life situation, something that (as the Director Michael Clickner pointed out in the after show discussion) did not really happen in these sitcoms. Things were never really heavy and gritty, and this play gives them a more realistic, edgy feel. Johnson literally threw these characters into real world situations and the result is a truly fabulous play. In the play, June and Ward Cleaver find out that their son, Beaver (Theodore), is gay after she finds him giving little Ricky Ricardo a kiss one day in his bedroom. And this leads to just complete and total pandemonium amongst the families and in that society.
The dramatic reading of this play was well done. I had a great time. I felt they really portrayed certain things, such as the way parents sometimes blame themselves for these situations happening, and the way that our society has changed. In the 50s, being a homosexual was unheard of. It was unacceptable and if someone did come out they were at risk of being beaten and ridiculed. So, most of the time, they denied whom they were in order to please their family (which is shown in the play when Beaver tries to “repent his sins” and be normal so his family will love him). And the students acting out the play showed just how homosexuality was perceived at that time really well. While things are still hard now, the gay community has still had the chance to grow so much since this time.
Being a dramatic reading, there were no costumes and set for the actors to work with, but the actors were still able to bring these characters to life and show the emotion that was needed to get the message across. I thought the actress who played June Cleaver did a fantastic job. She had a strong tone of voice and had great facial expressions. She really did a great job with the character. I also thought the actor that played Ricardo was hilarious; he definitely made me laugh. He did both the humorous lines and the more serious lines well and his accent was pretty good! Mr. Ed was another great character, and I thought the actor did a great job portraying him. He was sort of a voice of reason in the play, and the little twist that Johnson gave him was fantastic.
I loved how by the end in the play, Beaver has accepted who he is and is fighting for what he believes in. I also think that the vows that Beaver and Opie wrote each other were wonderful and just wrapped the whole message of the play up nicely.
Overall, As the Beaver was a great start to this new season of FreshINK. I really liked it and I am quite excited to see what is coming up next!