Arts theater review

Happy theater, sad theater, weird theater

MIT’s Shakespeare Ensemble presents The One Acts

The One Acts
MIT Dramashop
Kresge Little Theater
February 9-11, 2017

“Bad Auditions by Bad Actors” (BABA) directed by Peter Duerst ‘18
“The Dreaming” directed by Raine Haskew ‘17
“Guilt” directed by Elizabeth Parizh ‘17
“Are You Normal, Mr. Norman?” directed by Colin Aitken ‘17

Say hello to some of the funniest, wackiest, intense-est, and weirdest one-act plays you have ever seen. MIT Dramashop presents The One Acts, a collection of concise 30-minute plays that hit home hard. Among the plays chosen this year were “Bad Auditions by Bad Actors,” directed by Peter Duerst ’18; “The Dreaming,” directed by Raine Haskew ’17; “Guilt,” directed by Elizabeth Parizh ’17; and “Are You Normal, Mr. Norman?,” directed by Colin Aitken ’17.

Dramashop kicked off One Acts with “Bad Auditions by Bad Actors,” in which a hapless casting director and her apathetic assistant set out to cast the leads for a community theatre production of Romeo and Juliet. Things quickly turn sour. From head-in-the-clouds dreamers to kick-ass interpretive dancers, there is a bad auditionee with every quirk you can imagine.

Next up was “The Dreaming,” a metaphysical play in which two people find themselves waking up inside a room with no doors and with no memory of who they are or how they got there. Their initial suspicion eventually crescendos into an existential crisis. Robert Thorpe ’18 and Hunter Richardson ’19 bring us two quirky characters: one highly suspicious of the other, the other not taking any intelligent steps to fend off suspicion. Hijinks ensue as they realize they are trapped within the pages of an author’s play script.

Third came “Guilt,” in which one character traps another inside a box. As the play progresses, the audience discovers why. Although the writing and dialogue was a bit dry for me, this play gave us a stellar performance from actresses Victoria Longe ’17 and Matisse Peppet ’20. Longe brings out the grief and sorrow of a regretful mother exceedingly well as she recounts the day she inadvertently killed a little girl. Peppet plays the part of the wronged little girl with brilliant flair.

The final show “Are you Normal, Mr. Norman?” was particularly noteworthy. This show stars a seemingly normal human being, Norman Norman (Melanie Abrams ’17), who goes to the dentist for a toothache. Little does he know that what starts out as a very normal toothache evolves into a nightmarish hellfire of a situation, involving a mad dentist, a crucifixion, and the pulling of 32 teeth (not really). If weird is what this play was going for, it succeeded perfectly. The audience itself follows the characters to the brink of sanity.

“I picked this play because it’s weird,” says Aitken. “You see a lot of theater that makes you happy, theater that makes you sad — but not a lot of theater that’s weird. I wanted a piece that would make the audience confused.”

He certainly succeeded with me. I left the theater scratching my head, totally uncertain what themes to take away, wondering if there even was a theme to take away. It was good — confusion can be cathartic — but it was no doubt the weirdest play I’ve seen in my life. Kudos to Colin for a wonderfully and crazily directed show!

One Acts showed in Kresge Little Theater from February 9-11 at 8pm. I’m thoroughly impressed by the brilliant work put on by MIT Dramashop and look forward to more in the future.