During a bright Saturday afternoon on Stokes Lawn, students stepped under the roof of the arts tent to find shade and refuge from the swarm of children outside. Inside, they found entertainment, in the form of a choose-your-own-adventure play. The Boston College Dramatics Society set out to perform as part of Arts Fest, securing a spot in the Stokes Tent to showcase its skills in pantomime.
The premise of the performance was almost patronizingly simple—Cassie Chapados, MCAS ’17, read aloud from a small, hardcover, choose-your-own adventure book, while four members of the society acted out the story’s plot in the center of the stage. The book, Return to Atlantis by R.A. Montgomery, began by introducing the main character—You. Told in the second person, the story allowed for the audience to actively participate in the main character’s decision making. “Your” actions were played out on the stage by Michael Mazzone, MCAS ’19. Chapados and Mazzone began the show alone together on the stage, as Chapados told the audience of your past venture into the lost city of Atlantis years before. Unfortunately, you failed to return with any evidence of the visit, and all of your findings were credited to hallucinations caused by spending too much time in the deep sea.
Fortunately for your scientific reputation, you were soon approached with an opportunity to return back to the lost city. Marybeth Dull, LSOE ’18, joined Mazzone and Chapados on the stage to play the role of Horton James III, one of your best friends who had just recently been awarded a scientific studies grant. Horton offered to use the money and equipment included in the grant to fund and outfit a trip back to Atlantis, where you would be able to experience the fantastical city again and bring proof of its existence back to the surface. The two of you boarded a submarine and plunged to the depths of the ocean, represented by Mazzone and Dull’s cavorting around the stage.
The two were soon joined by the performance’s last remaining actors, Jessie Shaw, MCAS ’19, and Jared Reinfeldt, MCAS ’16. Coming in from offstage with Shaw riding on Reinfeldt’s back, the pair was the realization of the book’s mystical, leviathan-like creature. At this point, Chapados confronted the audience with its first choice, asking whether the actors should follow the creature or continue their descent toward the lost city. The audience unanimously decided to follow the creature, and then suddenly, the two actors compromising the beast detached. Chapados explained that a capsule had detached from the side of the creature, and was requesting permission to come aboard your submarine. The audience was again asked to make a choice, this time between attempting an escape, blasting the capsule with the submarine’s missiles, and allowing permission to board. At the request of a young girl in the front row, the Dramatics Society pursued the latter.
Now assuming the role of two Atlanteans that had been riding on the side of the leviathan, Shaw and Reinfeldt explained that they had been on a food-gathering mission, and were happy to welcome you back into Atlantis. At this point, the audience was asked to choose whether they would join the food-gathering mission, or go straight to the lost city. Growing anxious to see what the actors would do to create the mythical metropolis, the audience elected to journey to the city. The ante of the pantomime was upped as Chapados explained that Atlantis had been at war with an enemy people, the Nodoors, since you had last visited. At the time of your arrival, the city was under attack, and you immediately had to decide whether you should go straight into the city’s headquarters or help defend it at the borders. Feeling particularly valiant, the audience elected to help protect the city, and Shaw and Reinfeldt set out to arm Mazzone with imagined stun weapons.
Unfortunately, the audience made the wrong call in choosing the overtly-righteous path. Mazzone flew to the side of the stage, pantomiming the effects of a giant explosion. You would be trapped in Atlantis forever. “Are we happy with that ending?” asked Chapados. The resounding response from the audience was no. Flipping through the book’s pages, Chapados returned to our initial encounter with the Atlanteans, and opted to join them on their food-gathering mission. Yet nowhere in the depths was safe from the Nadoors—the gathering mission soon fell under violent attack, and the audience was confronted with our final choice: fight back, or escape to Atlantis? Having learned our lesson, the audience chose to escape to the lost city, and we finally got the happy ending we wanted.
While the premise of the play was slightly patronizing for older viewers, the enthusiasm of the actors and the silly plot were a perfect form of casual entertainment for a Saturday afternoon. Having only been able to rehearse in multiple read-throughs, as it was entirely unpredictable which adventures the audience would choose, the Dramatics Society looked professional and prepared for whatever their viewers threw at them.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor