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Arts in Review

Review: New Writers, New Plays

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Four short scenes from four new plays; a staged reading of works-in-progress by students of English 381.

Happily Ever After

Written by Dustin Anderlini

Reviewed by Jess Wind

Inspired by spending time with his “grown-up friends,” Anderlini explains his play seeks to explore the dynamics of friendship as they change with adulthood. When should relationships be left to history? How do people deal with pregnancy, mother-in-laws, mid-life crises? In the scene, one friend is a mother of two and the other is pregnant with her first. The dialogue is concise and well developed, with each character’s underlying conflict displayed in the short scene. Reminiscent of the recent wave of adult comedies, Happily Ever After reminds us that the story doesn’t end after the good job, marriage or kids, it just changes.

Square One

Written by Hannah Smith

Reviewed by Jess Wind

Smith takes on a wide range of family situations with her new play. She explores early onset Alzheimer’s, divorce, autism and young love all within one family unit through the lens of Cora who is struggling to keep it all together. In the scene we are shown the dynamic between each member of the family and the conflict that arises when they are all put in one room. The dialogue is honest and purposeful between the characters and especially strong in the presentation of Amy, Cora’s autistic sister, whose lines permeate the scene. With a natural storytelling arc, Square One carefully explores love and heartache in all its forms.

The Cure

Written by Mathea Lawrence

Reviewed by Dessa Bayrock

This short scene (and the play as a whole) focus on the relationship between Catherine, now an old woman, and her adult daughter Maria. Their relationship seems typical, but with one catch: Maria is completely imaginary. Amongst the cliché mother-daughter talk (Men will always break your heart! Why can’t you be happy for me!), we see an interesting critique of Catherine’s life. It’s normal for a child to be critical of their parent, but here the audience is aware that the daughter doesn’t really exist; when Maria questions Catherine’s life choices and parenting, we know Catherine is too. It’s easy to extrapolate and imagine this on the scale of an entire play, and how Maria can serve as a tool to discuss mental illness and self-doubt.

Bryce meets a Sasquatch

Written by Dustin de Jong

Reviewed by Dessa Bayrock

How do you construct a quintessential Canadian tale? Throw together five friends, two tents, the Canadian wilderness, and the possibility of a sasquatch. Despite the bare-bones set of the staged readings, the audience quickly gets the idea of their ability to see into both tents; while the flimsy nylon effectively blocks the characters from each other, the hilarity of a semicircle ziiiip! unziiiip! motion only builds as the scene continues. De Jong nails the dialogue of young people floundering around in romantic feelings and relationship entanglements, with a host of incomplete and awkward metaphors pouring forth from a hopelessly-in-love character. We never see the sasquatch, and it’s questionable if anyone in the play does either, but we’re more than willing to tag along on the reconnaissance mission.

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