By LEONARDO TADDEI
For The News-Letter
This weekend, the Arellano Theater hosted the Barnstormers’ “Freshmen One-Acts,” five short plays that are each directed by upperclassmen but cast entirely with freshmen students. Produced by talented senior Elizabeth Sylvester in collaboration with sophomore Elisabeth Winkelhoff and freshmen Miyu Tada and Julia Zimmerman, the show highlighted fresh talent and the Barnstormers’ overall teamwork.
The first One-Act performed was “Cleveland Waits,” a hilarious scene written by established playwright Greg Vovos. This overture depicted the funny, paradoxical and troubled business relationship between an agent and his actress. With gaunt and never excessive direction, sophomores John Del Toro and Esther Rodriguez perfectly managed freshman actors Nicholas Sass and Natalie Wallington on stage.
The dialogues turned out to be humorous and amusing because they illustrated the typical scene — although intentionally exaggerated — that every desperate actor or actress who has waited to be called for a role has sooner or later experienced in his or her professional career.
The inexplicable “Long Island Iced Tea” by dramatist Nick Zagone was well-interpreted by freshman Corina Zisman in her role as Roberta. Her performance allowed us to forget the unstable performance of freshman Robin Dickey, who perhaps thought of her character, Rose, as a disabled girl more than a drunk one.
Although sophomore directors Lily Kairis and Ian Markham staged two actors seated in front of the others and forced these performers to continuously turn their back to the audience while speaking with their colleagues, this directorial mishap did not ruin the strong atmosphere that was present on stage.
Moreover, the plot, a love connection between three couples, was vividly rendered by the rest of thefreshman cast, composed by Eric Waelbroeck, Jonathan Silveira, Marcia Zimmerman and Zadich Saidane.
Despite being efficaciously directed by sophomores Alberto Muniz and Erin Todaro, “The Philadelphia” by American playwright David Ives was the third play of the night as well as the weakest offer of the showcase.
The plot is set in a surreal café where the specials on the menu include polish duck blood, cream of kidney and deep fried gizzards. Apart from the interesting acting of the gorgeous Alisha Dalal as the weird waitress who the believable Teo Icliyurek had to deal with, there is really nothing to this skit.
Paraphrasing the lines of Mark, impersonated by the convincing Sam Northwood, the play placed the scene physically in New York but metaphysically in Philadelphia. This was exactly what the audience experienced as they were physically in the theater but metaphysically somewhere else too.
The last two one acts presented by the company came as a surprise at the end of the show because they were the best written, interpreted and directed.
“Is It Me?” by writer Tony Devaney Morinelli is a refined and smart, short play about personal insecurity and how to take advantage of it. The dialogue occurs between the opposite characters interpreted by Renée Scavone and Samantha Albstein, both of whom perfectly rendered common aspects and behavioral differences of their roles as girl one and two.
The performance of “Is It Me?” is a remarkable example of how a well-written play can contribute to the majory of a show’s overall success. Without solid writing, not even the best actor or director on earth can produce a respectable work.
Finally “The Chocolate Affair” by Stephanie Allison Walker was undoubtedly the most awe-inspiring of the night. Weird in the best way that a surreal play can be, this play depicts an intriguing dialogue between Beverly (Amy Vonder Haar), a woman whose guilty pleasures include chocolate and Halloween candy, David Gumino in the role of Mr. Goodbar and Michael Feder as a blue M&M candy.
This refined play, surely the funniest of the evening, was never predictable and caused reflection about food disorders like binge eating. It also hinted at the uncertainties of those who society deems to be fat and at the tumultuous relationship one can have with one’s mirror image.
Unfortunately since the theater is situated in the Glass Pavilion, there was another event with loud music that often disturbed the actors and audience on Saturday night. The audience itself also proved to be very noisy due to high-volume, inappropriate laughing, rumbling and coughing — a symptom of the change in weather. These disturbances resulted in a very rowdy atmosphere which did no justice to the professional show on stage.
Despite some highs and lows, the overall showcase ended up being very pleasant and well-received by the audience, who crowded the theater and demonstrated a general appreciation for the shows. In fact the resounding final round of applause was a great tribute to the effort that all the directors, actors and producers put into the genuine performance.
Correction: Elizabeth Sylvester’s name was previously misspelled.