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1 Day + 3 Plays = Chaos

April 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm
By Claire Weinberg '12

All throughout the Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday day and Saturday evening of third weekend, a team of thespians was hard at work on the process of the 24-hour show as described here. That is, the writers wrote all night (8 PM on Friday to 8 AM on Saturday), then handed their scripts over to the directors, who worked all day with assigned teams of actors to prepare for the performance at 8 PM sharp.

The results were highly varied. The first play, "Freedom Pies", suffered from a lack of enough story to pass the time. It was about three people competing in a small-town baking contest: a bright-eyed Southern belle who references the state of Alabama enough times that she should probably have been paid by the Alabama bureau of tourism, a "feminist" baker, and the established and very misogynistic chef who falls in love with her. They bake things and show them to the mayor to be judged.  Not much happens that can be called plot. However, there were some high points that kept things amusing: Audrey Carlsen '12's rants as the bitter, foul-mouthed, alcoholic mayor were delightfully vicious; and when the characters were "baking", their ingredients consisted of things like Cheez-Its and Fruit Roll-Ups, which they nonchalantly tossed into their mixing bowls and stirred together as if they were flour and butter.

"Mother Honk", by contrast, was remarkably sophisticated for something produced in 24 hours. Written by Casey Andree '12, Alsa Bruno '12, Michael Domingues '13 and Claire McFadden '13, it was a blacker-than-black comedy that inspired as many "aww"s as laughs from the audience. (For example: one of the plotlines concerns a hapless 10-year-old boy with an adorable lisp who still wets the bed; his father assures him that his parents still love him, but would love him more if he could learn to control his bladder). The titular character (Karen Eash '13) is a sort of Tooth Fairy figure who visits children in the night and solves their problems (she helps the bed-wetter break the habit); they adore her for the rest of their lives, yet she can't seem to connect with her own rebellious teenage daughter, Lavender (played with a masterful sulk by Francesca Chubb-Confer '11). This irony rears its head in one of the funniest scenes in the play, where Lavender has invited her hunky jock crush (Conrad Dean '11) over to study for physics. (He asks her to explain the volume of "spears." "Uh, you mean 'spheres'?" she says. "Yeah, spears." "It's a P-H, it's pronounced like F." "Wait... you mean we haven't been studying pie-sics?" This is the first play I've seen Dean in; his comic acting, at once acerbic and affable, is intriguing and I'd like to see more of it.) Then Mother Honk interrupts, the hunk recognizes her from when she helped him as a child, and it's all over for Lavender. Much storming and tears ensue. The most compelling aspect of this play was that it managed to combine very dark, sardonic, at times scatological humor with a lot of genuine feeling and meditation on what it means to be a parent, which wouldn't usually be expected from college students.

The final play, "A Beautiful Man", had the opposite of the problem that "Freedom Pies" had: too much plot. A spoof on "A Beautiful Mind" with male models instead of mathematicians, the play tried to cram all the plot twists of the movie into a half-hour-long play, making it seem rushed and at times unintelligible for those who hadn't seen the film. There were, however, several scenes that were extremely funny on their own, especially those in which Geoff Williams '11 practiced his posing, his flamboyantly sexual motions accentuated by the ten-gallon hat, Daisy Dukes and cowboy boots that made up the entirety of his costume. The play was amusing but too long – despite the overabundance of plot, many scenes seemed as if they could have been cut down significantly.

All three plays were valiant efforts, which could have been improved by a good deal of cutting of less important dialogue. In any case, they have inspired this reporter to try writing for the show next year, and she may have to eat her words when she discovers the difficulty of writing from 8 pm to 8 am. We'll see.