Theater Review: Actors Shine in a Quartet of One-Act Plays

Last weekend, the theater department presented professor Tom Leabhart’s “A Quartet of One Act Plays.” The plays were “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell, “Overtones” by Alice Gerstenberg, “Misreadings” by Neena Berber, and “Poof!” by Lynn Nottage. The one-acts featured actors from Pomona, Scripps, and Pitzer Colleges, and Harvey Mudd students participated as members of the crew. About 400 people total attended the five performances and one preview.

The show began with “Trifles,” featuring the production’s largest cast (five actors) and only men. In “Trifles,” two women from a rural town accompany the county sheriff and attorney to the home of a murdered man to collect some possessions for his wife, who is in jail as a suspect. Maggie Dickman SC ’12 and Hannah Snyder PO ’12 effectively embodied the mindset of the rural women they portrayed, investigating the murder from a distinctly female perspective. Strong supporting performances from Alexander Glassmann PO ’10, Markham Shofner PO ’11, and Ben De Winkle PO ’13 contributed to an outstanding opening.

In “Overtones,” two society ladies’ “inner selves” fight over an old love triangle, ending in the defeat of the “inner selves” by the cultured facades. Both pairs of actors—Megan Nevels PI ’11 and her inner self Ariel Gilman SC ’10, alongside Katie Lyman PI ’12 and her inner self Sarah Roh PO ’12—balanced power appropriately during the battle between the two aspects of each character. Though the dialogue in the play is dated, the actors nonetheless made the characters accessible and entertaining. The cast recreates this commentary on early 20th-century society as the actors politely bite off one another’s heads.

A frustrated English professor and her unmotivated student spar over the relevance of literature in the modern world in “Misreadings.” Raven Evans PO ’12, as the professor, and Cuyapi Scott SC ’11, as the student, created accessible characters despite the gulf between the college experience portrayed and the college experience of the audience.

“Poof!” was not originally part of the season-opener; however, though it may have been an afterthought, “Poof!” undeniably stole the show. The play depicts an abused wife who tells her husband, “Go to hell,” and is quite surprised when he does, leaving her with a pile of ash and a dilemma. Julia Pashall PI ’12 played the surprised wife, and Daria Dulan PO ’12 played her friend. The two deftly walked the line between comedy and philosophical depth. After ultimately deciding to sweep the ash under the rug, the pair brought the production to a commanding close, with their excellent dramatic chemistry and keen understanding of the women’s situation.

Two of the plays (“Trifles” and “Poof!”) addressed themes related to spousal abuse. Advocates from V-DAY, an organization supporting abused wives, were available outside the theater after selected performances.

The Rest of the Season

The department’s next production is Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” Nov. 19-22 at the Seaver Theater. The dance department will host the fall semester dance concert Dec. 3-5 at Seaver Theater as well. The Druids-BLT theater association will produce a collection of student-directed one acts Dec. 11-12 in the Allen Theater and Seaver Theater Studios.

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply