Last weekend, the Experimental Theater Board (ETB) premiered its rendition of the satirical one-act play The Barbarians are Coming, written by Luigi and Januzzi and directed by Hannah Neville ’14.
The play opens with two refined noblewomen trying to decide what type of tea to drink. The main characters are played by Emma Weinreich ’13 and Lily Gage ’15.
Reading from a large, encyclopedia-like book, they discuss barbarians condescendingly, speaking in British accents and using elevated language.
Their conversation is interrupted by a frenzied serf, played by Nora Katz ’16, who announces that barbarians are laying siege to the castle.
The women are not comically unmoved and continue their discussion of tea and barbarians. Annoyed when the serf returns beaten and in complete hysteria, the ladies lament the breach of decorum and complain that the serf has forgotten to knock and stained the carpet with her blood.
The play ends when the barbarians arrive at the castle and the women converse in elevated language with a grunting barbarian, also played by Nora Katz ‘16.
“It’s all about communication and different forms of communication,” said Neville. “I think we put so much emphasis on big words and describing things when a few short words will suffice. It is also about listening,” she added, “which obviously the ladies in the play don’t do. It’s all about listening to all sides.”
Neville believes the play’s ending is a good clue to its message about society.
“In the end, the lords win and the peasants lose. The fact that the women manage to keep from being killed says they can talk their way out of anything.” It’s that enduring theme, she says “of the upper class getting away with a lot and the lower class holding them up.”
The play was a short twenty minutes but very fast-paced and high energy. It received many laughs from an enthusiastic audience that nearly filled Little Nourse on opening night.
“It was really funny,” said Emilia Calma ’14. “I really enjoyed the conversations between the two ladies,” she added.
This was Neville’s favorite aspect of the play as well. “I love the dynamic between the two ladies. They are clearly old friends and work together really well, she says. “It’s their naïveté that they are right and know how the world functions,” that makes them so funny, Neville believes. “They haven’t had much experience out in the world.”
The production was Neville’s directional debut at Carleton. She was assisted by Michael Wheatman ’15. While it was quite a challenge to put a play together in three weeks, Neville enjoyed the experience overall.
“It was a lot of fun and I think it was a success. I do theater and I direct things because I want to make people happy. I love walking out knowing that people enjoyed themselves.”