To be or not to be? The US one-acts explore the human condition, eggs, modern relationships, and more

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Claire Tipler

Sophomore Jonah Harrison, junior Mary Grant, and senior Tessa Rauch, respectively cackle as they play the three witches from the one-act “Our Rotten Town” during the dress rehearsal. “I’ve got my answer – not to be,” Justin Zanaska (playing Hamlet) said.

Noor Qureishy, In-Depth Editor

Our Rotten Town:

The first one-act on Jan. 29, directed by Upper School English and Fine Arts teacher Eric Severson, featured many modern adaptions of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet. The cast of Our Rotten Town captured the essence of their characters (Ophelia, Lady Macbeth, Romeo, etc.) beautifully, by showcasing their faults and idiosyncrasies while still capitalizing on the iconic qualities and moments that defined their respective characters. Lady Macbeth (junior Phoebe Pannier) cackled about blood on her hands and Hamlet (senior Justin Zanaska) entertained the audience when he referenced the original Shakespeare play, saying “I’ve got my answer – not to be.” Overall, this one-act inspired both nostalgia and amusement in the audience, as the many ridiculous aspects of Shakespeare’s play were re-imagined (like the fact that if Romeo (sophomore Drew Fawcett) had waited a minute after he found out Juliet (sophomore Dorienne Hoven) was “dead,” she would have woken up and they could have lived happily ever after) with fondness and no small amount of amusement.

Sure Thing:

Sure Thing, the fast-paced one-act directed by seniors Miriam Tibbetts and Riley Wheaton followed the conversation of two characters, Betty and Bill as they try to form a connection. Every time the conversation went wrong, a bell would ring and they would start over, or change the comment they’d made right before (“I believe that a man is what he is…(bell)…a person is what he is…(bell)…a person is what they are,” Bill, played by freshman Ben Atmore, junior Ivan Gunther, and freshman Nora Povejsil said). Their conversation alternated between being awkward, hilarious, absurd, and sweet. The cast of Sure Thing kept the audience laughing, while still conveying the importance of timing and the nature of modern relationships.

Fibber Mcbee and Molly:

Fibber Mcbee and Molly, originally a 1950s radio show, was directed, transcribed, and adapted for the stage by Maren Findlay. The eye-catching staging (lighting fading in and out to reveal the narrator at the beginning, etc.) and dry humor kept the audience interested, even as the story line seemed to wander throughout the show. Although the direction the characters were going in, or the conclusion the one-act arrived at was a little unclear, the way it was set up showcased the quirky, yet very relatable characters very well (“check up, until I get the bill, then it’s a choke up,” sophomore Nolan Smith, playing Ole said after he went to the hospital, one of the many times the characters delighted the audience with unexpected humor).

The Future is in the Eggs:

From beginning to end, The Future is in the Eggs, directed by seniors Caswell Burr and Ingrid Topp-Johnson, charmed and amused the audience, painting a lovable but decidedly weird (in a good way) picture. The one-act showcased the harmful and absurd effects of societal expectations, by presenting the audience with a family that saw the “production” of children (or eggs in this case) as the most important task for their son, Jaques (junior Coleman Thompson), as they tried to control his life by telling him the proper way to grieve, flirt, and get married. Along with futuristic feels and ridiculous humor, this one-act shined and conveyed an important message.

The Glory of the World:

The last one-act of the evening, The Glory of the World was directed by seniors Jack Romans and Maggie Vliestra. The one act began as a disembodied voice emerged from the darkness, saying “listen, it’s raining.” Before the audience had a change to react, the voice had started speaking again, only ending when the stage started to brighten, revealing a group of people who were singing “Happy Birthday.” As the story went on, it became clear that every person there had very different backgrounds, values, and faiths, and they all disagreed as to who their hero (Thomas Merton) really was. Was he a mystic? A Catholic? Their conversation was fast-paced, riddled with witty and thoughtful remarks. One impromptu dance routine (to Gangnam Style) later, the tension in the room had significantly increased, and their arguments became more intense – suddenly, one of them had a saw, another grabbed a knife – and soon enough, everyone in the room was dead, including the butler, who had joined the company later on. This captivating one-act was a perfect mix of insightful, darkly amusing, and thought-provoking. It was impossible to look away from the stage while the cast performed, and the ending left most of the audience confused, but enchanted, as the stage lights dimmed and the disembodied voice began asking questions (“What do you mean by contemplation anyway? Does the silence scare you?”), ending with “Yes, but don’t you think -.”