Drama Lab Reviews: Carnality, While the Auto Waits and Sales Girl

If you were swept up in the throng of students, faculty and parents that conspicuously congregates in the lobby of GW each Friday night, you would soon find yourself witnessing a striking variety of student theater of varying levels of excellence—the PA Drama Labs. As the doors open, seats quickly fill, and many find themselves sitting on the floor or standing in the back, chatting with friends until the lights dim and silence falls. This week, the one-acts “Carnality,” “While the Auto Waits” and “Sales Girl” entertained the patient crowd who made it into the claustrophobic, black-walled space. “Carnality,” presented first and written by Mark Lowewenstein, dealt with the difficult topic of post-break-up relationships. “Carnality” is the story of Michelle (Hannah Turk ’09) and Ben (Sam Weiss ’09), a divorced couple who still lust after one another. When Michelle drops by Ben’s house to pick up something for their daughter, the two engage in awkward conversation. Michelle admits that it is easier for her to hate Ben because she is still not over him. Eventually, the two realize that they are both still attracted to each other. While many teenage actors would appear uncomfortable displaying both the physical and emotional affection required, Weiss and Turk performed with sheer excellence on stage. The onstage chemistry between the two was impressive, and not the least bit awkward, despite physical interactions between the two. O. Henry’s play, “While the Auto Waits,” told the story of a pompous young woman. The woman (Kristina Rex ’11), while reading in the park, invites what she assumes to be an ordinary man to sit and talk. She tells the young man, played by Chris Meyer ’11, that she has escaped her driver for a peaceful hour of reading. She then refuses to give her name to the young man, claiming that hers is one of several names which “belong in the holy of holies.” Rex begins to boast about her lavish lifestyle and complain about how the countless functions she is forced to attend are enough to drive her mad. However, several minutes into the conversation, an older woman (Carolyn Wittingham ’11) comes looking for the young woman. The audience finds out that the pompous woman had actually ditched her job to act pretentious in the park. After their departure, a well-dressed driver (Chase Ebert ’09) comes looking for the young “natural” man, informing him that he is going to be late for his reservation. While the irony of the play was not exactly an original one, “While the Auto Waits” was entertaining to watch and very well-acted. The final presentation of the night was “Sales Girl,” written by Stephen Levi. The play, directed by Kate Taylor-Mighty ’11, illustrated an interesting post-Christmas marriage proposal. After the Christmas rush ends in the toy store where Marvin (Eric Sirakian ’10) and Cindy (Eliana Kwartler ’12) work, Marvin, the awkward salesman, asks Cindy the salesgirl to marry him. Marvin claims that he has been in love with Cindy since she started working at the store two years earlier. Cindy, however, is not overly thrilled about the idea of marrying Marvin. In response, she attempts to bring out another side of him by neither accepting nor rejecting his proposal. Marvin’s wild side slowly emerges, eventually reaching the point where he roars and rips his sweater off in the middle of the empty toy-store. This new side of Marvin captivates Cindy, and the two agree to get married in Las Vegas. Accompanied by a simple backdrop of “Christmas Sale” signs and stuffed animals, Kwartler’s debut performance was impressive. Both this promising actress and Sirakian made the most of each line. Sirakian’s performance was exceptional as he took his character progressively from awkward and nervous, to wild and energetic—until the point where he sent a stuffed animal flying into the audience and shed various articles of clothing. Lucy Arnold ’10 said, “I thought it was a generally strong night of drama labs, and the casts for each play were perfectly selected. Even though ‘While the Auto Waits’ got a new cast member the day before the performance, everyone did beautifully.”