“The Office” and “Scruples”

As the brutal winter weather continues to send chills up students’ spines, one can certainly find endless warmth inside the tiny, overcrowded theatre classroom. That wasn’t meant to be sentimental either; quite literally, the theatre classroom massively overheats each Friday night that Drama Labs are presented, converting the small room into a sort of theatrical sauna, warming our minds, bodies and souls. And tonight will be no exception. The playbill for this evening will consist of “The Office” directed by Demetrius Lalanne ’11 (relax, super fans, the hit NBC television show has not been adapted for the stage…yet) and “Scruples” by Jon Jory with direction by Ryan Morris ’09. “The Office” is quite short compared to most Drama Labs, but first-time directors like Lalanne are often encouraged to choose shorter plays, to make the overwhelming task of directing somewhat more manageable. Typically seen under the spotlight in the Andover Drama scene, Lalanne will now take a seat in the ever-so-comfy director’s chair. “It was short and funny—to the point,” he said. “The Office” tells the story of three female co-workers hopelessly bored in their cubicles. Named in the script merely as One, Two and Three, Kate Chaviano ’12, Izzy Kratzer ’12 and Katie Mclean ’12 (respectively) portray the bizarre co-workers. The two latter characters drive the plotline forward at the beginning, conspiring against their evil boss—they want to cause him a heart attack by feeding him an excessive amount of calories. In between these comical moments, the play’s tone darkens when the women complain about their terrible jobs and the depressing way in which their lives turned out, specifically their shattered childhood dreams to be singers and brain surgeons. In the background, interestingly, sits quiet number One, Chaviano, the crazy co-worker without any lines but one crucial to the story’s twist ending—a promiscuous slapstick gag involving female lingerie. Don’t miss this short and sweet caricature of human nature. The second play of the evening, “Scruples,” is far more philosophical then “The Office,” offering the audience a lovely contrast between genres. A five-person piece is somewhat of a rarity in Drama Lab theatre, given the inevitable difficulty of getting seven Andover students together, five actors plus the Stage Manager and Director, for rehearsals several times per week. In any event, “Scruples” takes place in the waiting room of a huge casting office where three young women, Lois, played by Emily Hutcheson-Tipton ’10, Marti, played be Jackie Lender ’11 and Jane played by Cat Cleveland ’11 anxiously await their final callback for a commercial advertising sexy pantyhose. The dynamic between the three women is definitely a high point of “Scruples.” Lois is the principled, chatty woman who is reluctant to reveal her legs to all of America on TV. Lois delivers one of the most poignant lines in the play: “Is it ever right to compromise your ideals for money?” Contrastingly, Jane is the dark realist who desperately needs the money and will do whatever it takes. Finally, Marti is the bright-eyed idealist who possesses great outer beauty but has trouble expressing her opinions. A tense argument ensues between the women until the extravagant executive, Mrs. Dobbs, strides in and prepares the actresses for their audition. The final character, Mr. Stiles, is her handsome assistant. Interestingly, this small part (when I spoke with Morris on Monday) was yet to be cast, although the director hoped Charles Horner ’12 would be available to play the role. Morris, who has directed twice previously, has a great handle for the technique involved. He takes observant and thoughtful notes and speaks to his actors with admirable clarity and conciseness. Additionally, he invites anyone in the production to voice their concerns to him, creating a beautiful collaborative effort in “Scruples.” Audiences are sure to be talking about this performance all through the dreary winter.