Disclaimer: This will not be your average theater review. Unfortunately, due to limited availability of rehearsal/performance space allotted for student theater, I was unable to attend an actual performance of Slippers on the Street before the print deadline rolled around (and what use is a review if it comes out after the play has already closed?). However, I did have the pleasure to be able to sit in on one of the final rehearsals for this performance.
Slippers is not an easy play for director Brendan Gillett PO ’14 to have chosen to direct, and the two sole characters, Artie and Marilyn, are not easy roles for Christian Romo PZ ’15 and Meghan Gallagher SC ’15 to have to tackle.
The play follows the story of two patients at a mental health facility as they attempt an escape from the ward, so as you can imagine, the play presents some challenges for young performers. But despite the challenges, the performance is in good hands.
Romo and Gallagher have a great rapport with one another, which is important in a two-person show, and their commitment to the characters even in a low-energy rehearsal space bodes well for the performances they will deliver later this week.
Gillett, who has a personal connection to the playwright, also has a very good grasp of the performance he wants and how to get it out of his actors. Every critique I was prompted to give was out of his mouth the very moment I thought it.
His ambitions for performances in non-theater spaces are also finally being realized: Slippers is in some ways an interactive theater piece, as it begins in the outer courtyard of Seaver Theatre and moves into the Large Studio for the second act. His directorial ambitions are sure to produce the same type of creative and resourceful use of Bottom Line Theater’s less-than-ideal performance space, which was seen in The Mike and Morgan Show earlier this month.
At my time of observation, the play was still shaky—I even witnessed a spur of the moment decision by Gillett to cut a certain scene of the play that he felt was not performance-ready. But this shouldn’t discourage attendance of the three performances this weekend—if anything, it should give you faith that the cast and its production team know what they’re doing and know what their audiences expect.
Ultimately, I can’t tell you how the complete performance will be, but the mystery is part of the fun—you’ll have to take a leap of faith and, like Artie and Marilyn, take those few hundred teensy-weensy steps down to the theater and discover it for yourself. I can, however assure you of this, if you’re looking for some kind of indication of what you’ll be in for at your night at the theater: It’ll have a little humor, a little sadness, some sweetness, some bitterness and a whole lot of heart.
Slippers on the Street will be performed Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Seaver Theatre courtyard and the Large Studio. The performance is free and no tickets are necessary.