BUGS presents: Princess Ida


The women of the college at Castle Adamant, with Meg Martinez ‘15.5 (top middle) as Princess Ida.

When the curtain is lifted on Brown University Gilbert and Sullivan’s new production, Princess Ida, the ensemble cast are assembled onstage as members of King Hildebrand’s (Ahmed Ahour ’19) court, gazing out into the audience with telescopes. They are looking for the eponymous heroine, whose failure to arrive breaks a marriage vow to Hildebrand’s son, Hilarion (Nicholas Renton ’19), made during her infancy by her father, King Gama (Reilly Hayes URI ’17). Gama comes instead with his three sons, buffoonish knights who are quickly imprisoned, along with their father, until Ida can be summoned.

Achieving this goal turns out to be more difficult than expected, however, as a liberated Ida has sworn off men entirely and founded her own women’s college, of which she is president. The only remaining option, Hildebrand’s court concludes, is to send Hilarion–along with his two trusty companions (Harlan Epstein ’19 and Jacob Laden-Guidnon ’18)–off to the college to reclaim Ida.

If all this set-up sounds like a lot, fear not: it is all taken care of in a breezy first act. The meat of the work is the second act, set at Ida’s college, in which the three young heroes dress in drag and attempt to infiltrate the women’s-only community to comedic effect. Naturally, of course, this premise is merely a foundation for a deeper exploration of gender roles and stereotypes. Unsurprisingly, Gilbert and Sullivan, writing in the late 19th-century, did not share all-too-similar views on such issues as Brown students in the early 21st.

Continue Reading

VlogReviews: 3C2C

This week, VlogDH peeked into the rehearsals for 3C2C (3 Chairs, 2 Cubes), Brown’s undergraduate playwriting festival. Featuring five student-written and student-directed short plays, 3C2C presents the viewer with a healthy combination of absurd, moving, and hilarious moments that demonstrate the creative passion of all involved. 

To see the festival, swing by Production Workshop (7 Young Orchard Ave.) at any of these times: 

October 24th – 5pm

October 25th – 8pm

October 26th – 8pm

*Runtime is approximately 70 minutes.

The Seagull takes flight

Going into The Seagull last night, I was full of trepidation. I am no scholar of Anton Chekhov; before seeing the show, I couldn’t tell you much about this playwright. Upon reading the Wikipedia synopsis, that fear grew. The names were all complicated, in Russian, and difficult to pronounce. The story itself is immensely complex, full of love triangles that intersect and meld with one another, forming new shapes entirely. A rhombus perhaps?


I soon discovered that the beauty of The Seagull lies in its subtle irony. Each character wants what another has. While one is seeking fame, another is running from his talent and recognition. Another wants to be rich and provide for his family. His counterpart disregards wealth as an afterthought. One seeks approval from his mother, another from an audience, another from an unrequited love. The dizzying webs these characters construct should be overwhelming, but they aren’t. Director Laura Rikard makes sense of it all.

Upon walking into the theater, I was immediately struck by the intimate atmosphere. The audience was so close to the stage, and the actors cajoled us, laughed in our faces, and made us uncomfortable in the best kind of way.

Continue Reading

PW Presents: ‘Leo Baum’s Guide to Articulating a Skeleton

Fletcher Bell '16 as Leo Baum.

Fletcher Bell ’16 as Leo Baum.

The most recent PW show, Leo Baum’s Guide to Articulating a Skeleton, is ostensibly based on a series of historical events set off by an explorer’s failed excursion to the North Pole in 1897. The explorer, an American named Robert Peary (who ten years later did reach, or very nearly reach, the North Pole) made acquaintances with an Inuit tribe as he passed through Alaska, and convinced a small number of the tribsemen to return with him to New York. Those that came were taken into the custody of New York Museum of Natural History archaeologists; within a year, all but one died of tuberculosis.

The survivor, Minik, was a young boy at the time, and a Museum employee adopted him and raised him in New York. Minik’s father was among the deceased Inuits, but never received a proper burial, as the museum wished to study his bones; a teenaged Minik, discovering this ruse, initiated an ultimately unsuccessful struggle with the museum to regain possession of the skeleton.

All of these things lurk in the margin of Leo Baum, but none are at the heart of the play–that role falls to Leo Baum (Fletcher Bell ’16), an elementary school student whose father, Saul, seems to have adopted Minik, now grown to adolescence. (In real life, a curator named William Wallace adopted Minik.)

Continue Reading

Sock and Buskin Presents: Sweeney Todd

Photos by: Danielle Perelman

It doesn’t look like you’re on Fleet Street when you enter Leeds Theater for Sock and Buskin’s production of Sweeney Todd. It looks more like Wall Street during the Occupy movement. 

Cast members are kicked out of chairs by policemen as the show begins, and soon we see that the show’s villains are the beneficiaries of the income gap, while its heroes (if you can call them that), reside significantly lower on the income bracket.

In the production, director Curt Columbus, the Artistic Director of Trinity Theater down the hill (so he’s kind of a big deal), breaths new life into the old Tim Burton Sondheim tale of a man (Sweeney) returning to London to exact revenge on the judge who sentenced him to life imprisonment on false charges. You all know the meat pie part. 

The set evokes a city on the brink: cardboard signs — one reads, “WHY?” and another reads “MRS. LOVETT’S PIE SHOP” — graffiti, and an enormous ad for McDonald’s that looks like it was reimagined for a horror movie.

Continue Reading

PW presents: Bunny Bunny, Gilda Radner: A Sort of Romantic Comedy


If you love Saturday Night Live, clowns, or faked orgasms, then Bunny Bunny, Gilda Radner is the show for you. Director Jenn Maley ’16 aims to make audience members laugh and cry with a script that pulls you deeper and deeper into an original world of SNL actors and writers. Filled with a cast of gag and character clowns, Bunny Bunny explores the relationship between SNL member Gilda Radner and narrator Alan Zweibel.

Years after their relationship, Zweibel, played by Marty Strauss ’16, reflects on his sometimes-friendship-sometimes-romance with Gilda. With limited narration from Strauss and tons of help from character clowns Sabrina Imbler ’16 and Marli Scharlin ’16, the play leads us through the ups and downs of a long friendship. The audience is taken on a journey from the moment the two meet in a waiting room, to their final moments together before Gilda dies from ovarian cancer. Though the story deceptively presents itself as a romantic comedy, it soon reveals its true self as a serious tale of companionship, trust, and dependence. Though the two never end up together in a romantic sense, the friendship they build guides them through both of their toughest times.

Natalie McDonald’15 plays the loud and spunky Gilda Radner whose effect on the life of Alan Zweibel inspires Bunny Bunny. McDonald expertly manages to perform the growth of her character, transitioning from a somewhat-carefree jokester to a grown woman with more wisdom and experience in the trials of life. Together, Strauss and McDonald make for a charismatic duo – Strauss charming us with his wry commentary and McDonald captivating us with her whimsical magnetism. A cast of clowns, which includes Brad Weekes ’17 and CJ Risman ’17, step in to fill in any missing pieces of the emotional and honest tale of the friendship between Zweibel and Radner.

The set of Bunny Bunny also adds to its charm. What at first appears to be the backstage set of a television studio later transitions into characters’ apartment buildings or even the greenery of Central Park. The various props displayed around the set, along with the number of wigs and costumes worn by the clowns, contribute to the overall playful aesthetic of the show. Though Bunny Bunny is by nature a boisterous comedy, the fluidity of the theater space allows it to become a home for quiet and intimate moments as well.

If you take anything away from Bunny Bunny, it is that comedy can sometimes be the best anecdote to tragedy. With a hard-hitting second act, audiences are forced to ask how one keeps hold onto their joy when the world crashes down on them. Through good spirits and the loyalty of friends, McDonald’s Gilda seems to grasp onto her happiness right until the end. The world Maley presents with Bunny Bunny, Gilda Radner relies on its characters’ resilient optimism and will to live, and yes, along the way there are some pretty funny jokes.

Bunny Bunny runs through May 24th. Tickets are available here or at the PW box office an hour before each performance. 

Image via.