Like the Seth Myers, David Letterman, and Jimmy Fallon variety, our campus got our annual dose of a late night show. Trading in the oversized leather chair next to the host for a meager audience seat, late night entertainment lover Julia Goodman tells of her experience at this year’s anthology.
Latenite’s fall 2014 anthology was extremely entertaining, as always. While last semester’s showcase took on some more intense plays, this semester saw a return to the absurdist comedy Latenite has become known for. That’s not to say that there were no serious moments in the performance—though every show got laughs, there was also plenty of snapping for some of the more thoughtful beats of each show.
More so than in past years, this anthology felt like a very cohesive show rather than a collection of plays. Each act opened with a short, absurdist sketch that set the tone for anyone who might be unaware of what they were getting into. “A Sunday Drive” consisted of only two lines, but Adil Habib as Hip & cool Christian dad and Simisola Olagundoye as Jesus Christ delivered those lines perfectly. Half movement piece, half meditation on the driving abilities of Jesus, this show had a clear vision that director Chris Evans executed very well. The show was hilariously chaotic, and Olagundoye’s poised and stately Jesus held it all together.
The second act opener, “Teardrop Soup,” was even stranger—more performance art than anything else. The directing talents of Michael Rodriguez (or, as he’s credited in the program, Daniel Day Lewis) were put to excellent use with a show whose three lines served as the backdrop for a strange, ritualistic undertaking. No one in the audience seemed to understand this show at all, but that was entirely the point. Anyone who wasn’t there should regret the missed opportunity to see siblings Grayson and Alexandra Warrick cover their faces in red lipstick, while their butler (Shreyas Manohar) sobbed quietly to himself.
Several of the other shows were more traditional comic fare, though tradition by Latenite’s standards is never conventional. “The Affair Of Weathersby Castle” fulfilled the requisite quota of onstage orgasms. Ian Hewitt, as the Messenger, utilized every possible angle of the stage while delivering telegram-sexts between two progressively less decorous Victorian lovers. “This Is Just My Resting Face” also added an aspect of physical comedy to the show, as an extended escalation of characters becoming disgusted with one another until they are fainting and vomiting everywhere. “Bro, Do You Even Catch ‘Em All” was reminiscent of last semester’s Dora the Explorer spoof, but instead of Dora, it was Pikachu (Hilary Mogul) and Ash Ketchum (Zane Bhansali, voiced by Ishaan Nagpal) whose psychological collapse served as the main conflict of the show. The technical execution of all of these shows was above average, perhaps because there were no set changes within shows. The directors were able to devote their attention completely to the mechanics of one scene, and it really showed.
The standout piece of the night was “I Learned It By Watching You,” written by Jenna Lomeli and directed by Noel Gutierrez-Morfin. A father (Joey Santia) explained to his son Simon (Nathaniel Jameson) how the two of them, as cisgendered straight white men, benefit from the patriarchy, a la The Lion King. After noting that “everything the light touches” is their kingdom, Simon’s dad told him that they must never go into the shadows “until we gentrify it”—cue photo of Columbia’s Manhattanville expansion plans.
“I Learned It By Watching You” set the tone for a combination of humor and social commentary that was also well-executed in some of the other plays. This was particularly true of “Uncharted Waters,” in which Kate (Elena Dudum) explained to her friend Andrew (Yazan Nagi) how vaginas work. It could have come across as a middle school sex ed class, but the chemistry between Dudum and Nagi ensured that the piece was entertaining rather than didactic. The final show, “Nosey,” united issues of identity with absurdist humor. In it, two noses—one of whom has a mustache, and the other of whom can’t grow one—discuss what they would do if they could change their genetics. One wants to grow a face, and maybe even a body, while the other is determined to be content with life as a nose.
Though decidedly lighter than Latenite’s last showcase, this anthology was no less serious. Rather than looking towards unfamiliar situations for drama, it drew from experiences that one would be more likely to encounter on this campus. Though perhaps less jarring than last semester’s show, this one certainly hit closer to home. It’s good to see Latenite doing what it does best—self-deprecating humor, bizarre sex jokes, and moments of serious reflection.
Your average seat at the Lerner Black Box/the 84th St. AMC via Shutterstock