Sock&Buskin Presents: The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry

Although The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry is nearly three hours long, this play is jam-packed with action. And it’s completely wild. Like, grab onto the side of your seat, bring a friend to clutch sort of deal. It has Brown written all over it; from the  family dynamics to the shifting gender roles to the unconventional narrative style. Unsurprisingly, it is the brainchild of a Brown Professor, Marcus Gardley. Director Kym Moore explains how Gardley “created a myth culled from our collective past as balm for the soul.”

Here are ten of my takeaways from The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry:

1. The set is one-of-a-kind. Before the show began, the audience was invited to walk on the stage and have a look around. There were rocks scattered on the ground, headless torsos, and a massive hole in the ground. Perplexed, we settled into our seats. Soon, an overhead voice alerted us that “the museum is now closing.” Were we pretending this was a museum because Native peoples are always so on display? Or was it just because the stage was so interesting? Already, the play was thought provoking, forcing us to ask questions that couldn’t be answered. Philosophy friends, where you at?

2.The lighting technicians killed it. The creamy watercolor effect immediately established the mood. And as the plot moved forward, the set became drenched in red. The shadows were threatening and distorted our sense of place and time. Going for unsettled? Success.

3. Every sentence in this script drips with metaphor; I found myself scrambling to commit certain lines to memory. Many of the phrases are violent. When the characters argue, they spit out words like bullets, attacking one another mercilessly. But when young Sweet Tea, played by Julia Newitt ‘19, tries to explain her love, we are fully convinced that her feelings are pure.

4. This play is full of badass ladiesThe witch Half George, played by Oyindamola Akingbile ‘17, was particularly striking. Captivated by her strong melodic voice, we are in her clutches the entire show. She reckons that her heart is “hard and rotten” and she’s not wrong. The argument scene between her and Mary South (played to perfection by Crystal Kim ‘16)  is especially terrifying.

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PW Presents: Marat/Sade

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Julia Tompkins ’18, Duncan Gallagher ’18, Harlan Epstein ’19, and Anna Stacy ’17 as inmates in PW’s Marat/Sade.

PW’s new show, Marat/Sade, is a dizzying sensual overload. The play, directed by Andy Colpitts ’16 and written in 1963 by the German playwright Peter Weiss, won the 1966 Tony for Best Play, perhaps in part for its topicality in a period of social turmoil. Its depiction of the frustrations and tensions of class warfare feel no less relevant today.

Marat/Sade is chiefly a play-within-a-play, mounted in a French insane asylum in 1808 by the writer, philosopher, and onetime politician the Marquis de Sade. Ostensibly, the prisoners’ play tells the story of the assassination of the radical writer and theorist Jean-Paul Marat in 1793, at the height of the French Revolution. As the performance goes on, however, it becomes clear–to the displeasure of the onlooking and occasionally intervening asylum director Coulmier (Spencer Roth-Rose ’17)–that the prisoners have their own agenda to press.

PW’s Downspace has been turned for the production into a chained-off ring that feels half-prison, half-circus. A four-piece live band is on hand to supply music, although half of its members also come down to the main stage to play inmates during musical breaks. Four more inmates also serve as singers, and the musical numbers are impressive in and of themselves–tightly and often unusually choreographed, pleasantly dissonant, fluidly performed.

The ensemble cast, some with painted faces, many in ghostly white uniforms, are endearingly strange, dancing, chanting, and hollering in an almost orgiastic chorus. Mention must be made, in particular, of French hornist Zach Woessner’s ’18 midplay contortionist routine, which emerges as a totally unexpected highlight of showmanship. Comic relief is provided by Brian Semel ’16 (a BlogDailyHerald staff writer) as the sneering, sardonic Herald, a de facto master of ceremonies.

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Trinity Rep/Brown MFA Presents: Pericles, Prince of Tyre

If your appetite for Shakespeare hasn’t yet been sated by Sock and Buskin’s Twelfth Night, worry not: the Trinity Rep/Brown MFA Class of 2015 production of the Bard’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre continues for one more night.

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One of Shakespeare’s last plays, Pericles tells the tale of the titular prince, who flees from the bloodthirsty Antiochus of Antioch after discovering the King is sleeping with his daughter has a secret. Pericles flees to Tarsus, meeting King Cleon and Queen Dionyza, before being washed ashore at Pantapolis, where he wins the hand of the King’s daughter, Thaisa, in marriage. Their daughter, Marina, is born at sea as another storm kills Thaisa, who is thrown overboard and is carried to Ephesus. Pericles leaves Marina at Tarsus before returning home alone.

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PW Presents: Wonderland

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As soon as it begins, Wonderland, directed by Rebecca Carrol ’15, sucks the audience into an incredible, fantastical land. Framed by a breathtaking set designed by Yoo-Jin Shin ’18 and Ziyi Yang ’18, Wonderland is an interactive play that allows viewers to experience this Lewis Carroll’s mystical world first hand. Within minutes, the audience is left to explore the grounds and interact with the various characters. From there, a dramatic plot unfolds as viewers move from conversation to conversation.

One of the play’s most striking features is the integrity of its actors. Every performer commits completely to their role, adopting various idiosyncrasies and never breaking character for the entirety of the show. The cast members’ performances are unbelievably strong, even during moments in which they are not in the spotlight. Each character is interesting on their own, which can perhaps be accredited to Wonderland‘s unique writing process.

Described as a “devised” play, each member of the “Wonderteam” (which includes the cast and crew) helped create a script for every cast member. Because of this process, referred to by Carrol as “devising and conquering,” at any given moment, every cast member can be found behaving according to what can almost be described as their own personal, ongoing storyline.

As viewers hop from character to character, they also almost switch between intertwined mini-plays, complete with their own dialogues and monologues. This combination of individually functioning characters and the larger, overarching plot creates for a multi-tiered play in which the characters are as interesting as the central plot itself.

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PSA: The Book of Mormon is playing in Providence

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The award-winning Broadway musical The Book of Mormon is opening at the Providence Performing Arts Center tomorrow, April 29, and will play through May 11. Written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the co-creators of South Park, and starring Robert Lopez of the hit musical Avenue Q, the show is a religious satire about two young Mormon men on their mission to Uganda. The mismatched pair attempts to impart the teachings of the Book of Mormon on the Ugandan population, but the locals are more focused on an invading warlord and the spread of AIDS.

The play racked up nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, and kept up the momentum this month with four wins at the Olivier Awards in London. Jon Stuart of The Daily Show said that the Book of Mormon is “So good it makes me angry.” What more incentive do you need? 

Tickets range from $35-$93 and they’re selling out like hot Blue Room cookies, so act fast to snag a seat. Drop your textbooks and go see The Book of Mormon – hasa diga eebowai.

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