Last night I went to New Play — an ASU student written, directed and acted theatre production. There were four different one act plays. I was not really impressed, by the end I was straining to stay awake and fidgeting out of boredom. With the exception of The Wake, all left much to be wanting. The trend last night seemed to be an inordinate overuse of the F word. It seems that this word and all of the crass innuendo that comes along with it has replaced real comedic dialogue and wit. It’s sad and it’s also the “easy” way out. It’s a cheap trick to make the audience laugh (those who think that is funny) without having to really work for it ; so it’s also less rewarding for all parties involved — writer, actor and audience.
Well Made was the first play of the evening and at first I thought it might be an interesting commentary on playwrights and their struggles. However, due to poor acting and what seemed to be an inconsistent and at times just weird dialogue it failed to live up to its’ full potential. Well Made opens with a scene showing a playwright being eaten alive by her harshest critics. It continues by showing her being escorted to hell by a grim reaper type. The hell she goes to is one specifically for playwrights who did not follow the rules for a well-made play. Sarah, the protagonist, meets such writers as Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen and then adding a bit of an ironic twist, she meets a nun who wrote a religious play for her middle school youth group. Most of the time is spent in hell grappling with the reality that her work had been so bad that it put her in hell. She meets the devil and others like Sophocles. At the end she wakes up and tears up the play she was working on since it didn’t fit the model for a well made and well written play. Most of the actors in this play seemed to be just that, actors. They weren’t convincing and it felt stiff and memorized. It was an interesting message and commentary on society — writers are constrained by their audience and critics and are kept from writing what could brilliant material because of their fear of being eaten alive and thrown into “hell.” Again, it felt forced and it was not as effective as it could have been with the dialogue.
After that was Three Little Words. Again, this could have been another interesting commentary on unemployment and how it affects Joe or Dan down the street. However, the language distracted and took away from the message that was trying to be conveyed. There were some funny moments and the actor who played the main character did a good job and was convincing, however the same cannot be said of the other actors. Overall, this play was second-rate and the all of the language got really old really fast.
Okay, now onto my favorite of the night — The Wake. This show was funny with a bit of a poignant side that made you think about real life. It was also shorter and concise, which was a relief after the first two. It was a comedy with a darker side, but not really a black comedy. The play revolves around a family mourning the loss of their loved one. It shows a family for who they really are – it almost felt like being a fly on the wall and watching people interact and seeing who they really are without trying to impress anyone. It was interesting and there was some witty dialogue. The two child characters added some funny slapstick kind of humor as well. Overall the acting in this play was far better than any of the other three and was easier to watch and more enjoyable too.
Ohhh and where do I even begin with I Love You Mr. Laurent? It was much too long and the writer clearly needed more than one act to fully develop the plot and be able to conclude and resolve all of the different story lines. By the time it was over I was ready to start singing the hallelujah Chorus. It was really bad. I felt like I was watching a combination of Batman and “The Picture of Dorian Grey.” I really don’t have anything more to say about this one. It was long and boring and confusing.