A meta comedy about dying sounds oxymoronic, however Katie Dragone’s ’22 unique play pulls it off in a humorous, touching and barely tacky method.
Theater Lab’s latest manufacturing, “LINES,” carried out from Thursday to Saturday at Pigott Theater to enthusiastic audiences. Written and directed by Katie Dragone ’22, “LINES” zoomed in on the lives of three sisters and their households grieving over their mom’s extended dying in a hospital room. Regardless of the heavy subject, the viewers was laughing all through a lot of the play as a result of fixed, stunning breaking of the fourth wall.
The story takes place in an empty hospital mattress with two bedside tables going through away from the viewers. Towards the background noise of a coronary heart fee monitor, characters arrive one after the other to speak to Gladys, the dying mom and grandmother. She just isn’t portrayed by any actor however somewhat imagined to be there by the viewers. Every time a personality left the stage, one thing they introduced remained — flowers, photos or stuffed animals.
The play was thought-provoking and deeply private to the true playwright and director, Dragone. “The one method I might write the director’s be aware was by reflecting on my experiences with the inventive course of and mourning the lack of my very own grandmother,” Dragone mentioned within the playbill. The path of the play parallels her mourning expertise. The play gave the viewers two tales to observe — one of many grief and humor of household interactions, and one other of the grief and humor of writing a play.
After a couple of morose monologues from the relations, an individual within the entrance row popped up from her seat and paused the present, revealing herself to be the playwright who was unhappy with what she had written up to now. The playwright, portrayed by Simon Covington ’23, began to lament her personal writing, asking if anybody within the viewers even appreciated the play. One viewers member close to the again of the theater raised her hand.
“I prefer it,” she mentioned cautiously. When requested her identify by the playwright, she mentioned, “I don’t know.” She defined that she didn’t have a reputation as a result of she was part of the play and due to this fact only a figment of the playwright’s personal thoughts.
She was subsequently named “viewers member #1” by the playwright, becoming a member of her on stage in dialog concerning the aim of the play. In a very memorable line, the playwright asks viewers member #1, “Am I a narcissist? Or simply an artist?”
The remainder of the play unfolded in an analogous method, because the actors have been consistently interrupted by the playwright rewriting their scenes. The banter between viewers member #1 (Anna Mistele ’23) and the playwright was essentially the most entertaining a part of the present, serving to interrupt up the awkward interactions between estranged relations.
The present was a powerful feat of lighting, sound and set design, consistently evolving and altering to accommodate the playwright’s wants. (Considered one of my favourite characters was one who was not even bodily current, Ruth the lighting director, who appreciated to mess with the playwright by not taking her cues.) The actors had eager senses of comedic timing, realizing simply when to carry a joke or roll their eyes.
The character of Gerry, one in every of Gladys’ daughters (Rachelle Weiss ’26), was essentially the most compelling. Her estrangement from the household was obvious in interactions between Gerry and her sisters, Lucy (Sharon Wambu ’24) and Lester (Evelyn Kuo ’23), who resist chatting with her. Her supply of an emotional speech to Gladys, full with honest sorrow and fascinating bodily performing, gained my coronary heart over.
The climax of the present got here when the playwright took middle stage herself. After dancing across the stage (each actually and metaphorically), she lastly stands on the foot of the hospital mattress and speaks to Gladys, asking why Gladys couldn’t have extra time along with her. It turned evident that the playwright is said to Gladys herself.
The viewers then got here to the belief that the play was not simply the playwright’s brainchild, but additionally a mechanism by which she processes her grief. The play ends when she utters, “I want,” and the remainder of the solid joins her on stage for an embrace. It was essentially the most heartfelt second of the manufacturing, as Gladys’ relations and non-family members alike stood collectively in unity.
Editor’s Be aware: This text is a assessment and contains subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.