By Matt Benoit
Whatcom drama instructor Gerry Large says, in his director’s notes for the performances of Will Eno’s two one-act plays, that he considers Eno to be “the Eugene Ionesco of the Will Ferrell generation.” The New York Times called Eno “A Samuel Beckett for the John Stewart generation.”
I don’t know what to call him, but I do know that after seeing a performance of two of his plays Nov. 19 in Whatcom’s Syre Black Box Theatre, that Whatcom’s drama department is an incredible bunch of actors.
The two one-act plays, “Intermission” and “Tragedy: A Tragedy,” ran from Nov. 18 to Nov. 21, and was their first big production of the quarter.
The first play, “Intermission,” is just what it sounds like—a short, 10 to 15 minute play that features two couples—one older, one younger—watching a play and then arguing and discussing it during the intermission.
It was well-acted by Erika Almskar, Colleen Ames, Rodney Dejager, and Garent Gerrity, who seems to have more dialogue than anyone else in the play. The wardrobes were also sharp, including Gerrity’s hair and beard, which was dusted with a gray powder to make him appear middle-aged.
The second performance, “Tragedy: A Tragedy,” is a satire of sorts on television news people, starting off with some really dramatic music and overall giving a great example of how fake and overly dramatized television news has all too often become.
The stage is dark except for four spotlights, which shine on a studio anchor at his desk (played by Riley Penaluna) and three various field reporters (played by Emily Lester, Tim Greger, and faculty member John Gonzales.
In this case, the story the four people are covering is the seemingly permanent invasion of night, and the chaos this has created. As the play progresses, the four characters become increasingly loopy and struggle to keep from losing their minds as the “continuing coverage” simply continues and continues and continues…
The play, only a one-act, is actually quite long at around an hour in length.
Gonzales and Greger had, I thought, some of the funniest lines, including, “It’s the worst world in the world out here!” and “I’m at the First Congregational Church, where, incidentally, no one has gathered.” They also got to utter a few choice words of profanity the dialogue provides.
The humor incorporates both the physical (Gonzales does an excellent job at providing this, including one scene where he pretends to practice some kind of martial arts only to trip and fall over; he then returns to the scene drinking a beer) as well as the non-physical, with a lot of hyberbole, overexaggeraton, and dialogue that states the obvious.
Greger’s hair gets progressively messier and messier as the play goes on, and he gets to use the art of spin, commenting that the public should not focus on the fact that it’s dark, but rather, that it used to be light.
The anchors primp and fuss during their supposed “breaks,” and put on their fake confidence each time they go back “on-air.” It was very entertaining.
Overall, from the costumes to the lighting, both of these plays were well-worth the cost of admission. To borrow some lines from “Intermission,” the people were experienced and the cast was good.
“Do you get to the theatre often?”
Well, after seeing these performances, I think maybe you should.