Drama Labs: A Preview

Even with the overwhelming variety of on-campus activities offered each Friday night, Drama Labs are always a safe bet. Tonight, three more student-directed productions are scheduled to go up in the theatre classroom: “Cryptic Vibes” directed by Julian Danziger ’11, “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” directed by Mike Kaluzny ’09 and “In God’s Office,” directed by Alex Gottfried ’09. “Cryptic Vibes,” a short comedy by unfamiliar playwrights Barbara Lhota and Janet Milstein, tells the story of a frustrated girl, Gloria (Tavie Abell ’10), attempting to break up with her quirky boyfriend, Robin (Will Adams ’11). Little does she know, Robin has a surprise for her, too. As the play opens, Gloria, dressed to impress, is nervously pondering how to break the news to Robin, when he barges in, looking flustered, and announces, “I couldn’t wait. I had to see you.” An onslaught of “cryptic vibes” in their conversation follows as both try to confess their secrets to each other. Abell tackles her character wonderfully, while Adams comes off as perhaps too blasé for Robin, which could be a result of either hesitance in his first Drama Lab production or mediocre directing, or both. Adams has exciting potential, and, as a Junior, he will certainly perform again in years to come. Danziger ’11, a first-time director, said: “Overall, [my directing experience has] been great. The actors are doing very well: they memorized their lines early on in the process, which made everything a lot easier.” Balancing all of his extracurricular activities, it is a remarkable accomplishment for such a busy Junior like Danziger to direct a Drama Lab production. Handguns, shady business deals and stellar Marlin Brando impersonations are ripe in the Thad Davis play “Lawyers, Guns and Money” directed by Mike Kaluzny ’09. This dark comedy depicts a lonely low-life named Kevin (Eric Sirakian ’10) who comes up with a seemingly ingenious (yet slightly illegal) plan to make some much-needed money—a “business proposition,” as the Al Pacino-like character calls it. Over the course of the play, he enlists his two reluctant friends, Lydia (Mia Rossi ’10) and Ford (Matt Emery ’08), to help him with this new underground business he’s planning. One of Sirakian’s strong points is his ability to create an over-the-top, distinctive character that is more appropriate for a true comedy. He will surely make the Drama Lab audience laugh out loud, but some might find his characterization somewhat detrimental to the playwright’s original intent for the piece. Perhaps the casting process is the culprit here. Overall, though, “Lawyers, Guns and Money” is entertaining theatre and should receive a positive response from Drama Lab patrons. Alex Gottfried ’09 directs Damian Trasler’s play, “In God’s Office.” As the title suggests, this Drama Lab takes place in the office of the Almighty himself. A clueless deliveryman, Sieker (Bijan Torabi ’10), mistakenly stumbles upon God’s office while trying to deliver a package to someone named “Good.” A clever exchange of dialogue between Sieker and God (played quite omnisciently by Carolyn Whittingham ’11) arises. Surprisingly, most of the play revolves around the intelligent, provocative debate between the Godless deliveryman and a frustrated God. However, there is no plot, and the dialogue seems too scripted. Essentially, this “play” is the playwright’s religious manifesto disguised as a theate, in which he calls for a Christian utopia on earth, leaving the viewer slightly uncomfortable. Regardless, “In God’s Office” is a fine attempt at mixing theatre and social commentary. Still, it comes a bit short in finding a suitable balance between the two. For those who enjoy a thoroughly thought-provoking theatre-going experience, “In God’s Office” is for you.