UW-Parkside’s spring comedy had the audience in stitches from start to finish
HOLLACE VILLARREAL | Villa068@rangers.uwp.edu
Even before the show, the cast and crew put on a great performance. With the house lights still up and while people were still finding their seats, the band, led by Ben Briselden with Moises Diaz and Gerson Diaz, performed old tunes from the 60’s (the decade in which the play takes place).
Two cast members sat behind old-fashioned television cameras, “filming” the band’s performance and giving the play a behind-the-scenes feeling. The crew moved set pieces around without ever drawing the curtains, adding to that effect.
The attention to detail was quite stunning. Even the 7-Up bottle one of the TV camera operators was drinking from was vintage. It really felt like you were sitting in the live studio audience of a sitcom.
First act left the audience hungry for more
There was a brief introduction to the convoluted plot, where Pauline (Lauren Stoner) and Alan (Matt Rangel) were to be married, but Pauline’s father (Cody Summers) hadpromised her to a man who was now dead, but he had risen from the dead to claim his bride. The man turned out to be a woman in disguise, the dead man’s sister Rachel (Rayne Kleinofen), who stole her brother’s identity. After all that, the main character Francis Henshall (Alexander Griffin) took the stage.
Motivated primarily by hunger in the first act, Henshall was a sympathetic, yet misguided man who had taken two jobs serving both Rachel and her fiance Stanley (Ryan Zierk), the man who had killed her brother.
Alexander Griffin pulled off a stunning performance, masterfully delivering every joke and witty one-liner. The audience participation, planted or not, was spectacular, and the scene at the restaurant in particular—one of those fun moments where everything seems to be coming to a head, from the bumbling elderly waiter Alfie (Cole Conrad), to Henshall rushing around to appease his governors, to the governor’s coming out (never at the same time, conveniently) to ask where their food was, to Gareth (Skyler Albaugh) the waiter, along with an audience member pulled on stage for a surprisingly long amount of time—was a splashing success.
The second act did not disappoint
With Henshall’s initial motivation solved, he moves on to a new goal: Dolly (Hannah Anderson). Dolly’s performance as a 60’s-brand feminist was awe-inspiring, and her speech about a world she envisioned for the future left the audience in a stunned silence, hanging on her every word.
Pauline and Alan’s plotline had a good message there too. When Pauline was ready to kill herself for love, in front of Alan without him even lifting a finger to stop her, Dolly intervened to tell her he wasn’t worth it, especially if he was about to let her die. Throughout the rest of the play, he had to earn her love back.
In the end, it was Henshall’s lofty goals that did him in. While he was planning on takingDolly on vacation, he gave himself away to his governors and to the rest of the cast; however, in the end all was forgiven and each character got what they truly wanted.
My take on the play
Personally, I thought the play was a stunning success. Of course, Griffin’s performance was amazing, but Robbie Saw (who played Lloyd), Cole Conrad and Hannah Anderson are definitely actors to look out for. Though they had smaller, supporting roles, I found myself enjoying every moment that they were onstage.
The costume and stage design was amazing, everything was almost a caricature of the 1960’s, though that feeling was balanced by the TV-production frame of the story. Misti Bradford (costume design), Kyle Racas (charge artist) and Zach Young (scenic design) did an amazing job, though we’d expect no less from our award winning design crew.
During scene changes the band from the beginning would play songs, often joined by a member of the cast. Each song was well done and entertaining, but the best was when the three main actresses Hannah Anderson, Lauren Stoner and Rayne Klienofen came out to sing a wonderful song about how to help your man avoid getting caught for murder.
Overall, the play was great. The theater department has pulled off a stunning success as usual. The Ranger News will be sure to check out “Eurydice,” playing later this semester.