Teevan Returns (In Spirit)

During the holidays, all sorts of people tend to drop by for a visit, some tend to be on the stranger side of the spectrum. Even so, it is unlikely that one will have a visitor as deranged as the character of Josephine in director Caroline Claflin’s ’05 theatre classroom production of Say Goodnight Gracie, by Brooks Teevan ’02. Teevan’s play was performed on the final Sunday before fall term exams. The production, arriving a term after her graduation, was delightful for longtime followers of Phillips Academy theater. Many people remembered Teevan directing the Drama Lab No Exit last winter, as well as her previous production of Alice in Wonderland. The play takes place during the holidays, when one sophisticated clockmaker, Chris Zegel ’05, is visited by Josephine, played by Melanie Kress ’05. Sam, the clockmaker, was reading a paper at the counter when Kress’ character came rushing in, asking for a so-called “dead clock.” Confused about this character’s strange behavior, Sam doesn’t know how to react to this invasion. This was Chris Zegel’s first time on stage at Phillips Academy, yet already he has shown an ability for acting. Sam’s internal struggle was clear, as his formal nature worked overtime to calm the panic he was feeling as Kress rampaged through the store, upsetting the delicate balance of his various displays. Zegel’s performance as such a rigid, uptight man was impressive; should he choose to continue, Zegel has shown definite potential for the stage. Kress has shined on the P.A. stage before. She performed in the Fall term 520 production of Lysistrata, as well as many other theater classroom productions, and her talent as an actress is truly noticeable whenever she performs. In this play, the quick back-and-forth dialogue made this performance one of her best. Her insane energy was expressed both through extraordinary gestures and riveting monologues. At times, her eyes alone vividly expressed the rage and passion of her character. The show wouldn’t have been a fraction of what it was, however, if it weren’t for the extraordinary visuals. Theatre Classrooms in general do not have access to the tech resources of Drama Labs and Theatre 520’s, but Say Goodnight Gracie pushed the format to its limits. Stage manager Natalie McGarry ’05, although new to the theatre, really made her first time out a memorable experience. The show involved a ridiculous number of lighting cues, creating a surreal atmosphere and emphasizing the supernatural ending. It was difficult, however, to decipher much of the play itself. The storyline was fairly nonsensical, although the talent of the actors and Claflin’s skills as a director compensated for a somewhat confusing script. The blocking throughout the play gripped the attention of the audience, leading to a better understanding of what exactly was going on. Eventually Kress left the clock shop, but not before speaking the words non illegitimate carborumbum, (Latin for “Don’t let the bastards get you down,”) to top off her crazy tirade. As the door slammed, and Zegel sat back down at his desk and continued to read the newspaper. He reads, aloud, of a fire at the local church, where a dead body was found. On the ground nearby, written in blood, were the very words that Kress had spoken only moments before. Shocked, the clockmaker realized that he had just had an argument with a ghost. And with that the lights go down.