Charlie’s Aunt: Opening Night

by Elie Doubleday

“It’ll be good tonight,” an actor tells me as I sit down in Buddhism class Wednesday afternoon, “there’ll be some improv for sure.” But having been in plays before, I know that things always come together in the panic that happens five minutes before the show goes on. Tonight’s opening show should be no different.

A disclaimer for those going to see the show: it’s something like two and a half hours long (with two intermissions). But to be fair, you would have no idea it’s that long if I hadn’t just told you. The play is so fast paced, lines coming one after another, that it goes by quickly. Moreover, the humor makes it worth it. I laughed a lot. Props to the actors who memorized 2.5 hours of lines and performed them all in character while wearing a ridiculous number of layers in their costumes (lights are hot when you’re on stage).

Some highlights from the play that should be noted: facial expressions. Nathan C. ‘16 is generally well known for his specific type of humor, and that humor lent itself to this play. I swear he wasn’t acting at all. His character ends up caught in the middle of an intentionally mistaken identity, and his face as he watches the play unfold around him was priceless.

Other expressions of note were Harper H. ‘19 and Ella M. ‘19 who both had that serene look of an innocent young girl throughout while they delivered sassy lines to their soon to be fiances. The juxtaposition was beautiful. Additionally, Edward P. ‘18 (recently interviewed on The Dig by Isabella Waldron) had many entrances where he ran in, arms waving above him in what he calls his Nathan C. impression. I found it hilarious with his long limbs everywhere and about 8 inches of wrist sticking out the ends of his sleeves.

The costumes for this show are on point. Usually, costumes range from what can you find in your closet that looks at least somewhat like who your character is or an almost attempt at period (or themed) costumes. Yet this show has legit costumes. When Isabella Waldron and Aley B. ‘17 walked out on stage I was impressed. The two of them seem to find the costumes hideous, but for the point of the play, they were perfect. Additionally, Thomas P. ‘16 had a mustache that, if we’re being honest, completely made his character.

Mark F. ‘16, playing Brasset the butler was beautiful. He strutted around head held high, his voice carefully proper and measured, the perfect contrast to his master, Nathan C.’s yelling. Jack C. ‘18 has a surprising amount of voice, stage presence, and anger for someone of so skinny a build. And when he makes his big announcement at the end of the play (go watch it to see what this announcement is) (it’s pretty funny), his delivery was utterly perfect.

I’ve saved the best for last. Steven C. ‘16 makes an incredible woman. I know that sounds weird, so you better go see the play to verify what I’m saying. What’s great about his portrayal is that there are a lot of guys who wouldn’t be willing to wear a dress on stage and act like a girl, and yet Steven doesn’t care. He goes all out, prancing around and flicking his foot up behind him after his particularly sassy lines. Moreover, Steven is one of those people who’s very good at not freezing up when something unexpected happens. When he knocks some glasses on the floor, he apologizes in character without missing a beat and continues on. When the wig falls off, it doesn’t even matter because it’s in the middle of a comedic bit and goes right along with the whole play.

Speaking of comedic bits, this play is a farce, meaning much of the humor comes from the fast paced lines, buffoonery, and horseplay. These are hard things to pull off on stage, especially with a group of high school students in elaborate costumes. But yet, it worked so well. Incredibly well for opening night. I can only imagine it will get better from here. I don’t want to spoil these horseplay moments because they’re so perfectly unexpected. You really should just go see the play. There’s three more nights and it can only go up from here. Go see it!

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