By Elie Doubleday
OXFORD, Late 1800’s – Charley and Jack are each in love, but given that men and women can’t be together unchaperoned prior to marriage, they must find someone to serve as a suitable chaperon. And Charley’s aunt from Brazil seems like just the person. But what to do when she doesn’t show up…
The play Charley’s Aunt, to be put on by the OES upper school this March, is a classic British farce about mistaken identities, finding love, and losing love, all wrapped up inside a dress with a fan. (If you want to know what that means, you should see the play). Don’t know what a farce is? Worry not. A farce is a bit of an absurdist comedy based in a certain sense of realism. It’s very complicated to act as it uses buffoonery and horseplay. It’s superficially fun and flamboyant, but technically very complex. For the actors, this will difficult to pull off as it’s based in a fast paced tempo with complex dialogue.
Charley’s Aunt is a play in three acts, but each act takes place in a different setting, transitioning from interior to exterior to a different interior. Cameron Jack told me “in order to address the changes we’re using a technique of revolves.” Revolves, in this sense, is a platform on wheels which can be spun to create different settings. This play provides ample challenges with how to represent the outside, as well as creating a period set. Mark F. ‘16, props master, told me (as well as pleaded to the student body) that “ there are an IMMENSE QUANTITY of props, some of which we hope to acquire from community members, and if you are reading this and have very victorian furniture, or any of the items we send out pleas for around the house, we would appreciate your help.” Making an authentic set out of the great hall space is a complicated process and needs as much help as possible.
Clem D. ‘17 and Erin B. ‘19 will be Stage Manager (SM) and Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) respectively, with Gomes as director. Clem is excited about the play, telling me the cast is an amazing fit and Gomes is the best director for it. But she’s nervous for the shift from the last play she was in: Medea. She says “I am most nervous about giving cues because I have never done it before and have only been on headset once briefly.” Medea and Charley’s Aunt are technically incredibly different plays. Medea was an organically built play, done by the actors themselves while Charley’s Aunt is a technically complicated play requiring everyone to be on point all the time. Because of its complexity, improv is significantly harder.
The comedy aspect helps lighten up rehearsal times, as jokes are frequently exchanged and written down on the board. “I forgot my lines so I waggled my hips” Steven C. ‘`6 apparently stated at one point. Erin B. ‘19, ASM, said “Charley’s aunt is a fantastic comedy . . . The cast is really great and make rehearsals entertaining.” The script is comical and the actors are working hard to maximise the hilarity. Mark F. ‘`6 said “speaking as a ‘tractor,’ a techie who is also an actor, I can say that this show is going to be pretty impressive.”
Charley’s Aunt also features some new faces. Jack C ‘18, is making a debut as Stephen Spettigue, while Harper H. ‘19 and Ella M. ‘19 makes her upper school debut after being in Peter Pan as a middle schooler. Ella has an amazing time, and told herself she’d audition for some high school plays. Ella was “was so impressed by Medea and after seeing it decided that I would audition for the winter play. So far, this play has been so much fun, and I can’t wait to continue it!” This play features a cast of actors dedicated to the difficulty of putting on something as complex as a farce. Charley’s Aunt is sure to be a play worth seeing.