Despite the old school rap blaring as you enter Stuart Theatre and the traditional set with which you are greeted onstage, a drab government building overladen with mahogany and filing cabinets, Sock and Buskin’s new play Hype Hero is, above all, about modernity. It is simultaneously futuristic, current and archaic. It is a hyper-real representation of America, circa 2014.
Hype Hero, written by Dominic Taylor MFA ’95 (in typical open curriculum fashion, he also received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Brown) and directed by Kym Moore, is described by the playwright as “an afro-futurist Comedy of the Absurd.”
And absurd it definitely is. Everything is slightly off–the phone ringing sound effect is eerily hollow, soldiers burst on and off the stage, and the entirety of the first act takes place outside the Mayor’s (Crystal Kim ’16) office. The Mayor is a bumbling bureaucrat, a dictatorial, paranoid and ineffective leader in a dress wrought with sequins and ruffles. Kim’s portrayal is spot-on, channeling Elizabeth Banks in The Hunger Games and every political leader since Abraham Lincoln.
But the show is not Kim’s. It’s Sarah’s, Kim’s “administrative assistant,” played with equal reserve and ferocity by Jordan DeLoach ’15. Her role as Sarah is complex, requiring her to navigate both cultural and personal allegiances while remaining in her office chair almost the entire show. DeLoach is both the most active and inactive member of the cast, symbolically as much as literally. Her facial expressions, physicality and vocal shifts (at times performing “propriety,” especially when talking to The Mayor, at others employing use of vernacular, depending on her audience) are integral to her construction of Sarah.