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ISSUE 117 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/5/2004

'This is a play' that entertains

By Cate Grochala
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 5, 2004

What if, during a play, the audience was able to read the thoughts of the actors, but could not hear their lines? This was the perspective the audience got in This is a Play, a Five Guys Theatre Company production written by Daniel MacIvor and directed by Max Wojtanowicz 06.

Though brief, This is a Play, which ran Feb. 25 - 26 in the Pause, was a light, entertaining comedy that made the most of its cast and script.

The production twisted the common theme of a play within a play. Each actor portrayed a character, who was in turn acting in the play within the play, which was a cliched homespun romance: a new boy arrives in town, falls in love with a local girl, her mother disapproves, and finally her mother changes her mind so everyone can live happily ever after. However, this scenario was innovatively told from the characters thoughts. They spoke as they interacted with one another onstage, but could not hear each others thoughts. The audience knew how all of the characters felt, since they each bluntly shared their opinions of each other and the play in which they were acting.

Tom Borger 06 commanded attention as the young male actor and romantic lead, entering with great conviction. Borgers performance was enthusiastic, as his character became carried away with visions of future glory in feature films. Alex Moen 06 played the young actress and romantic lead, and also brought an energetic performance to the production. Moen lent her character a sense of ambition alongside the usual innocence of an ingénue, as she and Borger showed their characters competing for center stage.

As the chain-smoking, cynical older actress and relative, Mandy Morgan 06 provided one of the plays funniest moments when her character took the opportunity to accuse the writer of her supposedly heartwarming, absent-minded song and dance routine of having no skill. Her characters final speech, giving the boy and girl permission to be together, caused the younger actors to see her in a new light  as an experienced actress instead of an annoying actress past her prime.

The humor of the play lay in the blatant over-acting of the stereotypical mediocre theatre actors, their disgusted reactions to one another, and the outrageous symbolism and repetition of the word lettuce throughout the play.

Rudi Utter 04 provided the narration between scene changes, discussing the artistic importance and difficulty in creating original works. These narrations helped unify This is a Play, and also served as a reminder of the original perspective the audience was receiving from the multiple settings of the play.

The enthusiasm of the actors and director, the twisted traditional plot devices and the minimal use of props allowed This is a Play to be direct in its humor. The trite romantic situations in which the characters found themselves became fresh through the thoughts of the characters, whose minds were often far from the settings of their play, as well as through the zeal with which they acted the most trivial of scenes. Finally, the intrigue of This is a Play lay in the suggestion that perhaps the most amusing parts of the play are not in the plot, but in the heads of its actors.

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