Thorny thespian Ross Chapman returns with another Barnard theatre review. Skewer him!
Today is the final day of the Barnard Senior Thesis Festival, where three seniors showed off their directing skills in three very different shows. I chose to see The Serpent, and another Bwogger should tell you about The Crazy Locomotive soon. The Serpent is certainly a showcase for a director, as it’s as subversive a play as you’ll see all year. Directed by Andrea Marquez, this show was more of an experience than a stage production. From the start, something was amiss. As people on stage where getting the set ready (the previous senior thesis play, Woyzeck, had ended ten minutes ago), the members of the cast were mingling with the audience in a noticeably uncomfortable way. They were talking to people who seemed to want privacy and stretching using the chairs of unsuspecting spectators.
Suddenly, drumming started from the stage, which whipped the face-painted actors into a frenzy. For most of the first scene, I had the suspicion that this play was an experiment in making the audience uncomfortable. If you want to see it tonight, you should make sure you’re not too jumpy. Most of the scenes are chronologically independent from each other, but the one structural touchstone is the Bible. The title denotes the serpent from the Garden of Eden, and the story continues (in some manner) from there until the story of Cain and Abel. Even these scenes, though, are hardly literal, and each biblical episode is broken up by other, often angsty scenes.