Cast Uses Its Words

The stage is set; it throws the audience into the room of the stereotypical, frustrated writer, stuck with a seemingly eternal writer’s block. Three desks, the largest in the center, stand out on the small stage of the Theatre classroom, a used typewriter on top of each. The floor is covered with litter; crumpled pieces of paper are strewn across the stage, a pack of cigarettes is tossed carelessly aside, and playing cards, a hula-hoop, and a jump rope are also hiding within the landfill of junk. A tire-swing hangs from the classroom ceiling. The lights dim and three figures wearing plastic tarps step in. Last Sunday, students and faculty alike took the time watch the Classroom production Words, Words, Words. The play, written by David Ives and directed by Olivia Mascheroni ’06, was a short and hilariously clever development of the theory that “three monkeys typing into infinity will sooner or later produce Hamlet.” The 20-minute scene featured three monkeys – Milton, Swift, and Kafka – and their function in Columbia University graduate Dr. David Rosenbaum’s attempt to prove the theory. Each monkey inadvertently quoted lines from classical works such as Paradise Lost and even Hamlet itself, garnering a wave of hearty laughter each time. Ironic as well were the criticisms of their work, with the “savage, inferior” monkeys commenting on onomatopoeia, rhythm, and tone. Perhaps the most amusing twist of all was the conclusion of the scene, as Kafka actually began to type Hamlet. Though produced in the theatre classroom, Words incorporated a surprising number of props. Mascheroni also decided to experiment with a number of different lighting techniques. But, despite these technical choices, the heart of the performance still lay in its actor and actresses. In much the same way as the monkeys represented a charming jumble of quirky personalities, the cast of Words represented a rich mix of talents on the stage. Luke Cahill ’06, who played Milton, delivered sardonic lines with ease. His imitation of a wild ape stirred laughter in the crowd as he ran around the stage, swung on the tire-swing, and picked bugs from his companions’ fur. As for Swift, Paz Mendez-Hodes ’07 brought her character alive with strong movement. The rebel of the group, Swift brought the stage alive as she swept through the paper balls on the floor and jumped onto desks, weary of being cooped in the room. Though a bit rushed on some long-winded lines, Mendez-Hodes showcased her zeal, especially in more melodramatic parts, and never failed to entertain the crowd Rachelle Brignol ’04 rounded out the group as Kafka, the mediator and “philosopher” of the group who provided mental support for the others. Never losing focus on stage, Brignol was a perfect spoke with precise timing and concentration. Quite stunned by the amazing turnout of Words, Mascheroni was all smiles after the performance. Mascheroni, after having acted in another Ives play, chose this odd and original piece. In doing so, she brought 20 minutes of fresh humor and wit to the campus, even “more than she ever expected.”