Drew Theatre Tackles Tough Subjects for DirectFest 2017

by Christian Regan, Staff Writer

Ghosts, your childhood playtime and the death of the patriarchy are the nightmares served on stage this week in the D- Lab, and these productions are a five course meal. Starting with Then We Went Back by Jihan Crowther, a story of two girl’s quest for repentance while lost in the woods, the 90-minute run time is continued with the production of Boys Rule, a new work by Hannah Ponturo (‘19), a story about if the world were different, and just how different we would act because of it. Here’s hoping a full house on opening night is a blessing that continues for the rest of the run of this show (February 8-11, doors open at 7:15, show begins at 7:30).

Then We Went Back starts off strong, snatching the audience’s attention with whispers and secrets and conflicting agendas for our two characters, played by Rebecca Filetti-Andujo (‘19) and fellow actress Madison O’Shea (‘20). They transcend  character conflict and drama to explore what emotions really are like, and how fragile people can be when pushed for too long. While the writing of the show fell flat in some places, turning the tense dialogue into something stale and bordering on cliche, the actors and director, Aliyah Kiesler (‘18), did a phenomenal job of bringing life to the characters and story that might not have existed otherwise. The show strives toward realism and truth, and is impacted by the use of pantomime by the actors to give a sense of travel from location to location. Pantomime is a difficult art to perfect, though it does require perfection, as it can pull the attention of the audience away from the action of the scene if immersion is broken. All things considered, this was a strong show, and the production value and work put forth by the director and actors deserves commendation.

After a short break for a set change, Boys Rule begins, and immediately it makes an impact. The plot revolves around one boy growing up, learning about life and becoming a man. Only in this world, it’s the matriarchy that rules. All the roles are reversed, and the message of this play is a punch in the gut– “I wrote this play as an effort to explore gender issues through children’s eyes”, says Ponturo (’19). The message rings loud and clear in scenes both humorous and serious. The beauty of this show is reminiscent of the Planet of the Apes series, in the simplicity yet rigidity to the paradigm shift. The theme is executed beautifully with attention to detail taking a forefront, examining how much of our daily lives revolves around our culture, and the play turns many cliches fully on their head. The set design for the show was simple, with four rotating flats painted with different settings. The blocking and direction put the actors in the perfect light, both physically and theatrically, proving a harmony between the actors and director of this show. Major kudos are due to Ponturo (’19). The praise she receives is deserved; her work speaks volumes. The play has a very powerful message, which is made even more potent given recent culture shifts and political strife. Boys Rule isn’t a perfect play, but this is a must watch. The play is endearing while also deeply impactful, speaking to a level of equality that many have begun to shy away from in the past months. This play is a large step in the right direction, and as Ponturo said, “This is a play about working together, furthering the conversation.” So get out, see these two plays. You’ll be a step behind if you miss them.

5/5 acorns

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