This Friday at 8 pm, the calm before the storm will settle on stage. Then, the lights will go up, two tables, four chairs, and a Player will be revealed, and this year’s An Evening of Performance will begin. The show features a slapstick comedy with a twist that had me chuckling throughout; a more serious play that deals with rape, deceit, and jealousy; and The Game, where Life and Death play with the lives of two young artists. The show will also feature RPI’s improvisational comedy troupe, Sheer Idiocy, as the final, closing act.
I am no time-traveler, but luckily I was invited to attend two of the final rehearsals before they open at the end of the week. Those two nights, I was treated to all three Players shows. The first show of the night, Boise, Idaho, is directed by Jeremy Feldman ’16 and tells the story of a story within a story that may or may not be within another story. “It leaves you with some questions but you don’t have to take them too seriously,” explained Feldman. The show is quite confusing, but holds many of the comedic gems of the night, between the inherent comedy of the plot, golden one-liners, and salads tossed in someone’s face. The Narrator, played by Jacob Shatz ’16, brought the performance together with his witty banter, hilarious stubbornness, and his insistence that things happen for “no apparent reason.” The story revolves around Olston and Chastity, played by Reece Kearney ’15 and Pixie Sirois ’18 respectively, who are revealed to be Stacy and Stanley but who might in fact actually be Olston and Chastity; it’s complicated but worth it.
The second play of the night follows the first and brings the audience a more straightforward plot. Off the Grid reveals a creative writing teaching assistant, Mark, and his struggle to cope with the revelation that one of the papers he graded that detailed the story of one student’s rape, was true. Mark, played by Tristan Villamil ’18, is faced with differing opinions on the matter from his girlfriend Anne (Christina Hammer ’17) and his fellow TA Jack (Marc Barbret ’16) and, at times, doubts the paper’s validity. Mark struggles to try and teach Susan, the student, played by Jessica Spencer ’18, how to do things right. The play deals with a heavy subject and shows the difficult truth of doubt that may underlie a situation. However, it also speaks to encourage to lend support to others, no matter the situation. From the promiscuous Jack to the poignant Susan, the actors left me with an engrossing performance.
After intermission, the last Players act of the night took the stage. Directed by Emily Kosmaczewski ’16 with assistant director Emily Fernandes ’13, The Game tells the tale of siblings Life and Death, which has Life desperate to save two geniuses from suicide. The first, the Youth, played by Brendan Freilib ’18, is a clever poet who has lost his sweetheart and is determined to die. The other, the Dancer, played by Hannah de los Santos ’17, believes that she will never find love. Life tries to keep them alive by playing a game of dice with Death, who is in it for simply the fun. The siblings, Life and Death, played by Casey Adam ’15 and Rafael Ramos ’16, absolutely dominate the show with their personalities. The monotonous, cackling Death had me laughing along with him, while the impassioned, pristine Life gave me goose bumps with her performance, especially her final lines. The Game certainly threw the right combination and impressed with this skillfully delivered play.
With only a three-week cycle to practice and refine the acts, the shows delivered Sunday and Monday night were, in my opinion, absolutely impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them for multiple unique reasons and they ultimately had me feeling quite satisfied. An Evening of Performance 2015 opens Friday, February 20 and runs the whole weekend with showings extending into the next weekend on February 27 and 28. The show is already fabulous, even without the added bonus of the ever-enjoyable Sheer Idiocy, and I would definitely recommend attending.