The two coffee cups represent the two women

The two coffee cups represent the two women

This weekend, Columbia University Players put on a showing of “Collected Stories” by Donald Marguiles. Thoughtful theater critic Daren Napier brings you his thoughts about the show.

Last night, the Columbia University Players hosted an anxious audience to their final showing of Donald Marguiles’ 1996 off Broadway hit, Collected Conversations. The play, which chronicles the moving yet somewhat tragic relationship between aging writer Ruth Steiner (Juliette Kessler, BC ’16) and her protégé/assistant Lisa Morrison (Sophia Richards, BC ’18), as the latter makes the transition from an insecure and seemingly incompetent post-graduate student to an accomplished writer with the potential to rival her mentor.

Despite the fact that the entire cast is only comprised of two actresses, both women gave strong performances, and as a result provided the audience with an in-depth look into the slow but definite changes in the nature of the women as individuals. The play focused on many transitions within their relationship, as they changed from acquaintances, to colleagues, to friends, to unspoken rivals, and finally, to enemies. The performers, in addition to the instantly recognizable chemistry they shared on stage, also excelled in precisely conveying the sentiments of certain scenes to the audience in situations when the dialogue left much to be desired.

Overall, the dynamic between the two actresses onstage shares an undeniable parallel between the two women offstage: Kessler, the seasoned veteran provides a strong and memorable performance, a challenge which Richards, the poised and talented newcomer, feeds from and reciprocates in a near flawless manner.

Photo courtesy of Collected Stories Facebook event page