By Alex Zylka and Oleg Yakovets
The RPI Player’s Evening of Performance closed Saturday night, and you’re just seeing this now because we here at S&W are A) bad at writing reviews on time, and B) use any allusions to death in the show we’re writing about to pen something after it closes and call it a “post-mortem” review. Like all Evenings of Performance put on by the Players, the evening consisted of a handful of one-act shows, Sheer Idiocy, and nightly rotating pre-show entertainment. Each one-act was masterfully directed and acted, with imaginative sets by Zachary Pearson and timely and colorful lighting by Victoria Makara.
As soon as the curtain went up (it actually opened about two-thirds of the way), we were thrown straight into “The Philadelphia,” directed by Matt Fields. Its set was sparse and its lighting quite imaginative, but both went hand-in-hand to create the disconnected reality which is the basis for the show. People exist on Earth, yes, but they all perceive reality to be in the stereotypical behavior of the city. In Philly, no one gets what they want and the play explores when only one such person in a room exists while everyone is somewhere else. After all, someone has to be somewhere. The only downside is that the play did not explore any city from New Jersey.
One of the most notable shows was “Arabian Nights,” also directed by Matt Fields. Well acted and ridiculously positioned as a “lost in translation” show, its three sizzling stars (Hannah De los Santos, Matt Tennant, and Anastasia Feraco) kept the sizable audience’s attention. De los Santos, playing an Arabian man, is quite talented and absolutely someone to keep an eye out for while she’s still here! A cool ornamental moose (Tyrone) was incorporated into the set.
“Actor’s Nightmare” was the centerpiece of the night. A sparsely decorated set is offset by the laughs the show produces. Here’s the setup: In a classic case of “we’re laughing at you, not with you,” the audience watches the perilous plight of George (Dane Bush) onstage as the non-actor who has wandered onstage before a show is mistaken for an understudy. Bush was masterful in forgetting lines he never knew and many laughs ensued—perhaps the most I heard all evening. In the Private Lives segment of this one act, Talina Bastille shined as Sarah, the classy English-accented broad, especially when a bit of a slap-fest ensued. Physical comedy, as we know, trumps all.
Fun fact: I missed seeing “Waiting for Death” because of a… thing… I had to do. So. Yup. I hear it was a play that happened, and because it’s Players, I’m sure it was great. I had another S&W editor sub-in to review “Waiting for Death,” as follows:
Imagine Death not as a scary grim reaper but as a laughing, sadistic chap. The play takes place after the death of Jim Morrison as death is offering his drugs to shallow social climbers. Death knows how everyone will die and is merely an observer of the inevitable. The play makes you wonder if the death of shallow people actually counts as death, and if those people were bound to die they way they did had death not come around like an uninvited party guest.