Every year, Albion College theatre students get the opportunity to write and direct their own short plays. This allows them to express themselves as actors and writers as well as experiment with directing style. They also are able to learn how to work with their peers in a professional environment. The student workshops are creative and interesting to watch. Below are review of two of the workshopped shows, What’s in the BOX and Ten.
What’s in the BOX? Written and Directed by Max Brosnahan-Lusk
Synopsis- Two young men, Sean (Andrew Zimmer) and Austin (Brandon Marino), wake up to find a mysterious chain-covered crate in their living room. Being too hungover from their debauchery the night before, they decide to smoke some pot so they can deal with their situation. Once they get thoroughly stoned, they go to the corner store to buy munchies and cigarettes. Upon returning, Sean receives a phone call from his father asking if he saw the trunk Austin helped him carry in. Sean groans at Austin’s prank and goes to smoke a cig. Austin chuckles to himself until the lights begin to flash and an angry voice yell from within the chest.
Praise- The show was funny. Zimmer and Marino had great chemistry, they were comfortable with each other, and joked around in a bro-y way. I thought the presence of weed in the story wasn’t excessive or unnecessary. Also the characters acted in a believable way instead of being over the top. I also enjoyed the simplicity of the story. It was interesting but not too complicated, which was good especially because it was so short.
Suggestions- The show felt more like a skit than a show. It could have had more substance, or even a little more of a plot. The character’s names are never mentioned, and I, along with the rest of the audience, don’t really know what their past is. Clearly they’re roommates, but is it college or post grad? Why are they living together? Overall I feel like the show lacked the depth necessary to make the characters and story really matter to the audience.
Ten Written and Directed by Brittney DeShano
Synopsis- Jenna (Ciara Cannoy) and Danny (Ryan Head) are a young couple who live in a crappy apartment. This morning after snuggling, Danny goes to take a shower. When he comes out, he is wearing a suit and looks confused. He is surprised to see Jenna and he stares blankly at her as she leaves for work. A car crash is heard and read and blue lights flash in the background. Danny walk though the empty apartment gathering Jenna’s things. He finds her Bible and goes to talk to a priest. Father James (Andrew Zimmer) consoles Danny, and talks about how Jenna was a tragic loss. They talk about the concept of believing in anything at all, be it God or your spouse or yourself. Danny doesn’t think he can believe in anything and leaves. When he gets home, Jenna is in his bed and it is the morning again. Jenna gets ready for work but Danny to stop her, but she repels him and says he has to let her go. After the car accident once again, Danny is called to a soup kitchen by Jenna’s sister, Lena (Terra Travis). Lena is rather condescending about how her family doesn’t like Danny and how Danny shouldn’t think he is the only one who is sad about Jenna’s death. Danny apologizes and says he wished it had been him; Lena agreed. Now the show flashes back to Danny and Jenna on the beach. Danny proposes for what we learn is the fifth time. Jenna says no, again, but he sways her. It doesn’t last long, though, because, after a nasty phone call with Lena, Jenna admits she doesn’t see herself as a married woman. She gives back the ring, but changes her mind after Danny leaves. Again it is the morning again and this time Danny tries to get her to stay by bribing her with a trip to Paris. She still says she has to go to work, but Danny drives her this time so they both die. There is another flashback to their wedding day where they talk about finally being ready.
Praise- The show was well-rounded and thought out. The story was deep with faith-questioning overtones and discussions between characters about dealing with death. The acting was also well done. Cannoy and Head had great chemistry and seemed very comfortable with each other. Travis brought herself to tears in a powerfully believable way. Overall, I really enjoyed the show.
Suggestions- There were a couple inconsistencies with character information. The apartment Jenna and Danny share isn’t very nice, and Jenna mentions how they can barely afford that. But later in the show, Lena asks if Danny can afford that place alone and he says yes. I personally didn’t understand why Jenna changes her mind about marriage. We see how stubborn she is in that sense, but she very suddenly changes her mind with no explanation. Jenna and Danny were dating for six years before they got married, but we don’t see a lot of their history. We also don’t see why Jenna’s family hates Danny so much. I didn’t think the soup kitchen scene was necessary. There is enough characterization of Lena off screen, so why do we get this scene? I didn’t think it forwarded the plot or Danny’s thinking too much.