Harrison Dahme, Howl Staff
Saturday was the final day of the festival, and as such there were two plays followed by an awards ceremony.
While both plays dealt with ambiguous relationships and the ending of a relationship, they did so very differently. The first play, Arriver, aimer et partir, put on by the Victoria College Drama Society, explored how close two strangers can get via an unassuming conversation. In it our female protagonist, Noa, hires Ethan to move her stuff from one apartment to the next. It turns out the second apartment isn’t fit to live in, so she moves in with him and so begins the meaty part of the story.
I was expecting a bit more from the play, namely in the dialog department. The play billets itself as having these deep, meaningful conversations, but the entire course of conversation read like an awkward first date all the way through to the end. There was never really any believable passion in the actors, and so when one of them eventually said “I love you”, it seemed too humourous. If anything it could have been a subtle joke at the stereotypes of physicists, engineers and other scientists, in that they are so desperate to meet a girl, they’ll say anything to keep her. While the play was still enjoyable to watch it just was not believable, and some of the enjoyment may have been for the wrong reasons. For example, there were a couple particularily sad scenes written in, but they come off a bit too comedic, given how it sounds like a first date. With more time though, and a bit more refinement, they would have done a superb job.
The second play, Days like these, follows the last days of a married couple’s relationship when a friend comes to stay with them. Put on by UTM, it immediately got down to serious business. With the characters of an unemployed husband and a bitchy wife, the play seemed like a timebomb waiting to go off while the audience watched. Obviously a mature play, the emotion written into the script was spot on; no one laughed during a sad or tense moment. This all culminated with music being played in the dying moments of the last act. It was well done in that the music hit with such intensity it really propelled the final image of one of the actors standing alone on stage, surrounded by total destruction. It was a giant crescendo of anxiety in a family‘s living room. The acting was believable, and the feeling of total devestation I walked away with was tangible. Easily beyond any presupposed expectations I had of a student drama festival.
Regardless of how well each of the plays were, it’s commendable that students took the time to write, direct, and realize them. If the festival was about process rather than product, then my impressions of the plays might have been very different. As it was though, for the incredible amount of time everyone in the festival donated to turning the plays from idea to stage action, all the audience got to see – and all I can comment on – are how well the presented plays worked.