by Dick Kerekes
The Douglas Anderson Theatre Department presented a pair of one act plays by Michael Frayn from September 30 to October 3rd in the Black Box Theater on their Southside campus. Frayn is best known to American audiences for his comedy Noises Off which has been done several times over the years in this area. The Two of Us (l970) was originally 4 one acts plays, and Douglas Anderson’s Michael Higgins who directed, chose two of them, The Foot and The Look-Alikes for this production.
The Foot was an interesting character study of a married couple, Geoffrey (Ben Peltz) and Nibs (Kristin Alexander). The setting was a British living room, with Ben mainly absorbed in a book and occasionally talking with his wife. He explains that he has applied for a new job and the possible new employer will probably send investigators out to check on her to see if she is a suitable wife. The play is entitled The Foot because Ben with his legs crossed, is constantly wiggling his left foot , refusing to stop even at his wife’s strong insistence to do so. This triggered his wife into a state he called “the muddles” (to be in a mental state of confusion and bungling in thought). She begins to address various imaginary investigators who use various disguises to get into the home. Ms. Alexander has about 90% of the lines, a role that would be a wonderful audition piece. Mr. Peltz’s performance was interesting as well as he reacts or does not react to her rantings. The costumes by Brigitte Stephenson were indeed very British attire.
The 2nd offering The Two of Us featured a wall to wall dining room in an English home, wonderfully crafted with exceptionally strong doors (they get banged and slammed a lot). It is the story of an unusual couple in which the husband (Cole Marshall) cannot remember the names of their friends and it seems only the wife (Caiti Wiggins) can tell them apart. The action on this particular evening involves a dinner party where the husband of a separated couple has been invited while his wife is coming with her new hippy boyfriend who happens to be gay. Ms. Wiggins and Mr. Marshall play all the characters, disappearing into the kitchen or the living room, changing costumes and characters. I would not dare to attempt a complete synopsis of the plot, and it is sufficient to say, it was a frantic fast paced farce that left me breathless and I was just sitting there. I also died laughing! I am familiar with Ms. Wiggins as she has done several roles in various community theatres. Together, the team of Marshall and Wiggins were absolutely flawless in their comic timing, and British accents giving truly award winning performances.
When you think about it, one of the stars of this show had to be the costume crew who were there hidden away back stage to help make those split second changes (and I mean total clothing changes) Brigitte Stephenson and Amanda Harvey created the costumes, and the changing crew included Rebekah Peltz, Kristen Moser, Victoria Richmond, Phoebe Mauro, Emily Waldhauer, Elizabeth Adams, Megan Tuschhoff and Lilly Garmendia.
Michael Higgins is an instructor at Douglas Anderson and I have seen a number of the plays he has directed. He is truly an expert when it comes to staging a farce and The Look-Alikes is one of his best.
If you have not had the opportunity to experience the fine work of the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, then mark your calendar now for November 19, 20, and 21 for the Stephen Sondheim musical A Little Night Music which will be a lavish main stage production. It promises to be a sellout so make a note of their web site, www.da-arts.org and the ticket information number 904-346-5620 ext. l22.
Thanks DASOTA, for a marvelous evening of excellent theatre.
The Two Of Us
by Dick Kerekes