A Play with Something to Say

Simple arithmetic teaches us that when you add one and one together, the answer is two. In the theatre world, however, when you pair one overly defensive, vegetarian feminist, full of incendiary comments with one shy and chivalrous average Joe, the answer is quite different. This Sunday in the Theatre Classroom, the answer to this complex equation was spelled out clearly: blind date hell. Was it Something I Said?, an original play written by Alex Colaianni ’03 and directed by Paull Randt ’04 focused on a blind date between Jeff, played by Sam duPont ’04 and Kate, played by Jenny Byer ’04. With strong character establishments by both actors, the audience easily tuned in to Jeff’s agonizing pain when the combustible Kate misconstrued each of his polite comments. Their conversation turned to argument, and eventually Jeff storms out of the restaurant, unable to assuage Kate’s unforgiving attitude. Kate, obviously unaware of her strongly imposing viewpoints ends the play with an ironically baffled expression and announces to no one in particular, “Was it something I said?” Though it lacked in plot and struggled to find a compelling conflict, the show certainly had its funny moments. The simplistic silence that ensued while waiter Chris Lynch ’04 filled the couple’s water glasses was one of the more memorable parts. Such a tongue-in-cheek reference to an everyday awkward experience was certainly a stroke of genius. The actors themselves fit into their roles comfortably: duPont carrying out his role convincingly as the typical “single and looking” man. His genuine astonishment at his dining partner’s fiery criticisms connected with the audience. DuPont’s growing frustration at not being able to please his date and at all of her false accusations cause him to finally explode and lose any inhibitions he had as a run of the mill guy. Byer did an excellent job of displaying herself as a judgmental feminist, traipsing onstage in a coat and tie, and blowing up at her blind date for pulling out her chair, remarking on the restaurant’s excellent house salad, and ordering chicken. Byer also conveyed an understated sense of self-consciousness, defending her eating habits and her family’s socio-economic background. The phenomenon that occurred when both characters’ brought out each others sub-conscious selves – Jeff when he loses his politeness and Kate when she breaks down her guard to reveal her innocence – left an impressive resolution. As one of Colaianni’s first plays, this one had a good balance of comedy and thoughtfulness. While both duPont and Byer seemed to find objectives in their characters, there was something to be said for some noticeable awkward pauses and the lack of line pick-up in certain places. It was lucky that the actors were both talented enough to cover with their comedic timing and executing well-written lines, because that saved those uncomfortable moments of silence. Director Randt, with one other theatre classroom under his belt, made some good decisions with the show. Employing Nick Pappadopoulos ’04 and Scout Kingery ’04 in their colorful coats and ties to give comedic cameos before the play even started immediately warmed the audience up for some good laughs. Pappadopoulos and Kingery played two other restaurant-goers that were having a meal as the audience was seated- they left shortly thereafter. Randt also worked well with his mute character: the waiter. Brilliantly, passive glances and small movements by Lynch had an enormously positive impact with the audience – he had the best part in the show. Directorially, Randt could also have made some better decisions in terms of the main action. Though the script does not give way to much movement, there was more sitting and talking than one would have liked. Fortunately the play ran well under ten minutes, so that lack of action went largely unnoticed. Was it Something I Said allowed some talented veteran performers to step into the limelight and work with an entirely original script; and it also projected the work of a budding playwright onto the stage. And that, about the play, was something I said.