High praise for “An Evening of Drama and Comedy”

By Kathleen Mackey

This weekend, I had the opportunity to see the One Acts presented by the Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theater Arts. “An Evening of Drama and Comedy” consisted of three student directed plays: “Sure Thing” by David Ives, “The Care and Feeding of Baby Birds” by Ann Wuehler and “Annabel Lee” by Don Nigro.

The show opened with “Sure Thing,” the most humorous performance of the three. Directed by Laura Matteo, Class of 2018, it is staged at a coffee shop where two strangers, Betty and Bill, meet. However, each time their conversation steers in the wrong direction, a bell rings and they restart the conversation over and over until they get it right. Betty and Bill were played by Anabelle Nietupski and Seth Nauman-Shamatta. This play relied on humorous and well-timed delivery and Nietupski and Nauman-Shamatta did that exceptionally and never seemed to miss a beat.

“Sure Thing” was followed by “The Care and Feeding of Baby Birds,” directed by Tyrell Davis, Class of 2017. This emotional monologue act was performed by Zeljana Opacak, who played the role of Connie. Connie is dealing with an internal crisis where she feels like she’s going nowhere in life and doesn’t feel that it’s worth it anymore. While caring for baby birds that she wants to save, she has one-sided conversations with God, Satan and her late father. Through these conversations, she goes through a rollercoaster of emotions and self-realizations that cause her to continuously reevaluate her life. Opacak captivated the audience by channeling all of those raw emotions on stage. Because the Marinello Theater is such a small and intimate setting, Opacak’s delivery felt even more impactful and tragic to watch.

The One Acts concluded with “Annabel Lee,” directed by Robin Weaver, Class of 2016, staring Cassie Harper and Tyrell Davis. This play, based off Edgar Allan Poe’s poem titled “Annabel Lee,” was a dialogue between a teacher and a student that delves into their damaged minds. Annabel Lee, played by Harper, and Reynolds, played by Davis, start out as a student and teacher who hardly know one another. The conversation quickly progresses and the characters engage in a heated argument as Annabel Lee delves far too deep into Reynold’s personal life. While Reynolds persistently tells her to leave and ignore his personal life, she resists and eventually comforts him. In order to create the tension between the characters, Harper and Davis clearly worked hard to express anger and frustration. on stage through the tone of their voice and body language. Subtle touches like Davis’ heavy breathing and Harper’s persistent mannerisms made the tension feel all too real for the audience.

Overall, I enjoyed all three acts immensely. Each one of the directors and actors brought something special to the stage and I was impressed by how all three acts were so dialogue-heavy, yet they all managed to deliver their performances so naturally and effortlessly. I also appreciated how the three performances consisted of minimal props. It allowed their acting and emotional expression to speak for itself. If you ever have the chance to see the One Acts, I highly encourage it. The amount of work that the directors, actors and stage crew put into these performances was evident in each of the acts.

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