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Latenite Fall 2019 Anthology: Squash and Sweet Potatoes

Bwoggers Vivian Zhou and Eliza Staples review Latenite, Columbia’s silliest theatre tradition and the only one for which a review could include the phrases “‘beeps’ and ‘boops,'” “orange morph suit,” and “hair emporium.”

Not every theatre ensemble can put on a night of plays that are in turn absurd and heartfelt, then hilarious and poignant. But Latenite is not your average theatre ensemble. This semester’s anthology of short plays (all of which were student-written, -directed, and -performed) was a delight to watch.

Friends was the first play of the night, written by Gus O’Connor and directed by Jack Becker. It is the story of a young boy with a bag over his head with eyes and mouth cut out as he watched an episode of Friends. He is sitting on the floor with a paper rug. His mother, portrayed by Fiona Flanagan, enters and derisively tosses a burrito at him. The boy then removes the paper bag only to reveal a second paper bag underneath, but this one has a hole for his mouth.  Harry Singh’s Portrayal of the boy was bittersweet: he laughed to himself at the show, despite being entirely alone. He captivated the audience’s attention, despite delivering basically no dialogue.

Written and directed by Jacob Kaplan and Louisa Melcher,  A Doll’s House Part 4 depicts a hilarious surgery. Genevieve Joers and Adekuble Balogun play a nurse and doctor respectively, performing surgery on a prone body (Gus O’Connor). The doctor leaves to take a phone and is replaced by a serious of incompetent surgeons: ranging from nerdy to highly anxious to overtly sexual to I’m-not-like-other-girls to leather-jacket-wearing-cool. This string of surgeons could be considered as unoriginal archetypes, but each actor performed with such enthusiasm that the roles did not feel overdrawn at all. Genevieve Joers holds down the fort as a slightly confused but dedicated nurse, welcoming the arrival of each new surgeon and playing off their energy with ease. 

The next piece of the night was Beep. Duda Penteado played Beep, and India Beer played Boop, a couple that communicates exclusively through “beeps” and “boops”. Boop began the scene with some charming stage business: excitedly setting a dining table and mixing, pouring, and consuming a large cocktail. Beep enters, and then ensued a domestic squabble and a meaningful monologue by Boop. Despite delivering lines of gibberish, both actors clearly expressed their characters’ desires and storylines. The final punchline came when the characters break from the robotic language and deliver their final lines in (comprehensible) deadpan English. This piece captures the essence of Latenite– funny, simple, but with a deeper meaning and was probably one of our favorites. 

Squash Head Man and the Squashed Man: The Squashing of Man  was as action-packed as the title suggests. The play opens with a number of journalists careening around the stage, doing literal acrobatics. One journalist stands in the corner and slowly does the Macarena. One journalist is investigating the case of the Squash Head Man, a criminal of unspecified nature. The other journalists tell him he’s foolish for pursuing this. The two journalists who portrayed a couple in love did an excellent job of capturing the day-to-day bickering that every couple has. The couple leave the stage and suddenly, the Squash Head Man enters, clad in an orange morph suit and holding a pumpkin to his face. The journalist and the Squash Head Man battle over evidence. The climax of the action occurs when the Squash Head Man undresses the journalist, revealing that the latter has also been wearing an orange morph suit this whole time. The ensemble comes out, holding gourds to their faces, and circle the two main characters who tenderly dance to “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. 

Hair Emporium  was written by Alex White, and directed by Jordan Allyn and Alex White. Hare, Haire, Harre, and Smith are four salespeople/hairdressers enticing the audience with their wares: real human hair. The actors’ use of the space and set was particularly striking here. At one point, the audience’s attention is turned to an unidentified feral animal, portrayed very realistically by Carson Munn, who is clamoring around in the catwalk of the black box theatre. Additionally, the set was spare but there were four colorful cardboard boxes, and it was delightful to watch the four main characters climb in and out of these and even use them to form a train. 

Lamination tells the story of a cult of people devoted to/entrapped by the process of lamination. They worship Saint Lamina, played by Claire Fry, and are haunted by the devious Lamination Machine, played by Jane Walsh. The audience is brought from a chapel to an average office to a courtroom as we follow Jack Harrist’s attempt to fight lamination, which he believes to be an evil force. 

Little Knome Baby was perhaps the shortest and most absurd play of the night. A hopeful singer (Mia Simon) is attempting to record a new song, “Little Knome Baby,” for her opinionated producer (Amalia Mayorga). The song is about a Little Knome Baby who is snacking on a sweet potato, and who just got back from France. To this end, a spirited ensemble enters, dressed in gnome/mime costumes, holding sweet potatoes, and having an absolutely incredible time on stage. 

One Bwogger took a stream of notes while mayhaps under the influence of fermented grapes and mayhaps not. Here are the notes: 

“Guy w paper bag eating sandwich takes off paper bag to reveal another paper bag also maybe a paper rug lots of paper also fiona smoke and mean

Nurse and doctor scream a lot and then do surgery and then doctor takes phone back up surgeon very awkward nerd surgeon vs cool surgeon make out w cool one. Diff types of surgeons nurse kills the man 

Beep boop house wife angry husband . Wife smokenand sad . Husband monologue w dramatic music. After monologue couple makes up 

Ppl scrambling in to groups of 2 or 3 newspaper on head also smoke and tupwqfiter also everyone he looks like they on a lot of adderall  also everyone yell lots of heckle how’s make out w worker sonmuch is gong on someone is literally doing Macarena in corner I wish I was him couple want to leave for dinn res but worker has problems now couple mad man in orange onesie is squash head man holding a punkin to his face attack detective do I terpretive dance . And then becomes very sexual and I think they will have sex squash head man take off detective shoes and Sox . Strips him until orange onesie. Lots of people holding squash in face and they dance in the middle orange guys 

Hair ppl have weird wigs and they are selling hair bald people no eyebrows is market I guess person w suitcase no eyebrows come in BANDAIDS ON EUEBROWS was it Italian! she speak Russian. Now the boxes are a train and they are Chuk chuk ing now they wear lab coats and climb into box why does this feel like I’m high but I’m not an dl now it’s a LAB it’s a garden a dog person on the balcony w a flashlight whay the actual fuckkkkkkkk he climb down now 

Lamination? Very cool costume wow fashion baby Talkinf about what is laminated but isn’t laminated the plastic thing omg jack took his shirt off and he is wearing a plastic shirt now they are ina. Office   A person is an office laminator now they are in court office laminator against man who was laminated jack 100010101 donr you go fucking binary on me little judge sir is. A window NOT lamination is skin and ozone not lamination now they beat box. Stupid hu amane. Human and laminator argue . We laminated rhisbearth long ahibqnd you ruined it 

Girl could not stop dance singing about sweet potato and France . teacher or advisor or whatever says you need more enthusiasm. Sounds like a jingle for something and the girl is recording it. Ppl are dancing to a weird song about gnomes “

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