The four senior Directing theses

Four Theater majors are presenting their senior theses for the first of two installments of Barnard’s Senior Thesis Festival 2017. One of these theses is centered on Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano. There will be another showing of The Bald Soprano tonight at 8 pm in the Minor Latham Playhouse in Milbank Hall, Room 118. Admission is free. Bwog Staffer Gloriana Lopez reviews the performance. 

The Bald Soprano is a play by French-Romanian author Eugene Ionesco, in which Director Brittany Searles (BC’ 17) and Set Designer Ruth Hollander (GS/JTS ’17) presented their thesis. Part of the Theater of the Absurd, this play is full of witty commentary on the banality and senselessness of life (quite fitting for Columbia I must admit). Instead of the usual setting in London, England, the production team decided to set the play in the suburbs of Washington D.C. also updating certain aspects of the plot to the 21st century.

The play begins with Mr. Smith (James Ritchie CC’20) and Mrs. Smith (Bailey Coleman BC’19) sitting in their living room, which is covered in clocks. Mrs. Smith talks incessantly about the events that transpired during the evening (although Mr. Smith was also there), while Mr. Smith reads the newspaper. Then, their maid Mary (Madeleine Williams BC ’20) announces that their friends the Martins are waiting on the door. As Mr. and Mrs. Smith change their clothes to welcome the couple, Mr. Martin (Jackson Welles SEAS ’19) and Mrs. Martin (Angelique Nicole Dudley GS ’19) talk to each other as if they just had met and start revealing information that allows them to conclude that they are in fact married.  However, Mary comes in to let the audience know that Mrs. Martin’s and Mr. Martin’s daughters have a red eye and a white eye in different positions.

When the Smiths return, they start sharing stories when the Fire Chief (Claire Fry CC ’19) walks in looking for fires to put out. Disappointed by the lack of fires, she sits down and shares stories with the two couples. Mary then interrupts the interaction by revealing herself as the Fire Chief’s lover. The Fire Chief leaves after this, since she has planned to put out a fire on the other side of the city. As a result of the Fire Chief’s departure the Smiths and the Martins start talking and arguing in proverbs to the point where the whole line of communication collapses which leads the couples to scream “It’s not that way, it’s over here!” The lights go out and the play ends with the Martins in the same position the Smiths were: Mr. Martin reads the newspaper while Mrs. Martin talks about what had happened over the course of the evening.

The cast was extremely talented, all of them with ample experience in theater, except for Jackson Welles whose performance was his “first major acting role since middle school”. This is not to say that he did not a good job, but it was clear that the other actors were much more experienced. Although relatively minor characters both Fry and Williams were stellar performers who understood the importance of their characters to the absurdity of the plot, to the point where I seriously questioned Mary the maid’s sanity, and the Fire Chief was absolutely hilarious and truly committed to telling the stories in the funniest, most absurd way possible.  The set proved to be very dynamic as the actors’ hyperbolic performances were enhanced as they jumped on the table and the couches and the clocks on the walls framed the conversations between the characters and the highlighted the absurdity of the constant ticking very well.

This play will have two more shows today (April 21st) at 8:00pm and on Saturday April 22nd at 4:00pm. Tickets to this play and all of the Senior Thesis plays are free and take place in the Minor Latham Playhouse. For more information, visit Senior Thesis Festival Facebook event.

Image via Barnard Theatre Department