The O’Neill Arts Tent was abuzz on Friday night for After Hours Theatre, an event featuring three scenes that were written, directed, and performed by Boston College undergraduate students. The atmosphere was informal and spirited, which was dedicated to the student performers who carried an infectious energy throughout the show.
The first play, Waiter, was written by Simon Rogers, CSOM ‘17, and directed by Joe McCarthy (CSOM ‘17), and took place in a restaurant containing two couples and an old lady. When the restaurant owner denied the waiter’s request for his own large steak, he convinced the old lady to order one, which was meant to ensure he would get her leftovers. This plan comically backfired, however, when the lady wanted her leftovers to be boxed up for her dog, Reginald, who would enjoy them immensely. Viewers thought the waiter would have a conniption over this tragic turn of events, especially when the lady said covering the steak in compost would make the meal even more appealing to Reginald.
At another table, a couple was on a tense date after the girlfriend found the guy’s phone, which contained a conversation about a potentially impending breakup. The girlfriend conspired with the waiter to make this dinner the worst one ever, which led to the waiter throwing a $12 salad at the guy. The girlfriend savagely yelled at him to calm down, because the incident was “absolutely an accident,” which was an absurd declaration as carrot sticks tumbled to the floor, adding insult to injury. The joke was on everyone else at the end of the scene, as the guy snapped and said he planned to propose, at this restaurant at which they first met. As he stormed out of the room, the girlfriend declared she was actually pregnant, and that she thought the restaurant was actually a dump. This diva girlfriend character’s admission aptly wrapped up the pettiness of the scene with a shocking conclusion, leaving the audience to howl with laughter.
The second scene, Meisner, was written and directed by Michael Mazzone (MCAS’ 19). It gave the audience a look at the Meisner technique, the process of warming up and practicing theatrical exercises. The scene opened on a few theatre students, including an overachiever hoping that the professor would ask them about the assigned reading material. When Marissa arrived to lead the group, the actors cheered to burn various phenomena that they severely disliked, such as type-casting and pre-casting. This was especially funny when the overachiever refused to participate in the activity, preferring to take the more respectable, yet less amusing, high-road. The exercise continued with actors rolling around and shouting obscenities to tap into various emotions, at which the audience never stopped laughing. When one actor couldn’t cry by staring at a ball of yarn, Marissa berated her by screaming that both of her parents were dead, and the apocalypse was here, and there would be no more vacations to Turks and Caicos. The screaming proved effective, and the student cried without difficulty, a performance that the instructor still comically regarded as “pathetic.”
One student had the audacity to question why so much class time was spent on this unit, and lead Marissa to give a pinched explanation that Meisner was about delving into emotional as well as physical impulses. This lead to a dramatic, bitter brawl onstage, complete with screeching and a startling release of genuine action, which took the Meisner exercise a comedic step too far. The overachiever student was able to remind everyone that “love trumps hate” and that they should group hug to come together as thespians, which allowed the conflict of the scene to dissipate in a good-humored resolution.
The final portion of the show consisted of The Senior Play, written by Ted Kearnan (MCAS ‘17), and co-directed by Chris Losco (MCAS ‘17) and Michaela Dolishny (MCAS ‘17). The scene piled the graduating seniors onto the stage and reminisced comically about their undergraduate theater careers. From laughing about Shaw House, to pouring drinks out for past theater students, the scene had plenty of fun-loving shenanigans.
Next, the actors gave a well-deserved pat on the back for carrying out so many amazing shows over the years. Everyone got psyched about planning the next theatre season, complete with musings about who should direct the plays, and which plays to perform. The scene remained lively with the actors’ continuous chatter, and they scattered around the stage deciding who should document the group’s chaotic planning (luckily, Kyle’s phone was available for the job). The group considered cheered the wish to choose more musicals, with some suggesting more performances of their immensely successful past plays Assassins and Evita.
Perhaps the most endearing part of this setup was the casual atmosphere dedicated to the strong campus theatre community. The audience, which contained a large number of theatre students, erupted into cheers and laughter as the actors cracked jokes about their lives, such as getting behind on rehearsal timelines, or goading that Ross and Rachel reincarnate couple to get married already. These small, numerous details added comedic and nostalgic depth to the performance, and made the show personable and entertaining. The scene ended with an abrupt dance party and a heartwarming group bow, which was a perhaps bittersweet celebration of everything these students have accomplished, and their look toward more good times in the future.
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