Faculty Improvise Jazz

Imagine a hotel on fire. Firemen and swarms of spectators rush to the scene. The entire building is evacuated, save for one room. Somewhere on the eleventh floor of this hotel, two characters sit calmly at a table discussing building plans for a house. One of them is slightly intoxicated. Two buoyant firemen join them, bringing along a violin for their acoustic pleasures. Meanwhile the fire rages on, getting closer and closer to the room of these four occupants. Last Sunday, the PA community enjoyed “The Still Alarm,” directed by Lucas McMahon ’08 and written by George S. Kaufman. A short and sweet piece, “Alarm” depicted a surreal world where the characters are absurdly unaware of the amount of danger they are in. Two old friends, Edwina and Bob, finish their reunion just as a bellboy enters and unceremoniously announces that a fire has started. They react with a mix of measured shock and slight bemusement, beholding the event as some sort of spectacle. Following some witty bantering between the ignorant twosome, the firemen joined the scene, making a grand entrance, but proving to be equally as queer. At the end of the twenty-minute-scene, the four players go down “gloriously” amidst flames and violin music. “The Still Alarm,” as McMahon explained, is the type of comedy “that’s really controlled but really funny…not over the top.” It had the impression of the dry English drawing room satire that we do not see everyday at Andover. A distinct laugh marked the acting, changing from a forced, excessively robust guffaw into a deep, overdramatic sigh. Irony and sarcasm dripped from every other punch line. An cast of underclassmen provided the personalities behind the characters-William Koven ’08 (Bob), Chelsea Woods ’07 (Edwina), and Nick Anshusetz ’08 and Andrew Clay ’08 (firemen). Woods was especially entertaining in her expression and use of body language, whereas Koven delivered the sarcasm of his lines with ease and great timing. Clay, the bellboy and second fireman, was wonderfully stoic as he informed the couple of the impending disaster, and Anshusetz exuded a confident stage presence throughout the scene. Although this was their debut performance at Andover, all members of the cast have had previous theatre experience. According to McMahon, each student was cast due to their ability to work and understand the humor that they needed to communicate and share with the audience. Sunday’s performance demonstrated this depth of their talents and showed that PA’s younger grades show real promise for the Theatre Department. McMahon, though new to the school, is certainly not new to theatre. He has directed children’s theatre since fourth grade, and began to act years before that.endeavor. When asked about the difference between acting and directing, he responded “They’re black and white. [They are] intertwined, however; [usually] the director needs to know what it’s like to be on stage and how actors move around.” Whatever McMahon and the rest of this talented cast undertake in their futures, we can only hope that they will be as successful as this theater classroom.