Theatre: On the Brink
The Facebook event page for the second instalment of the all-student-run Drama Studio Series, Drama Studio Series on the Brink, states that “these shows are sure to spark some conversation”, and this is definitely the truth. As I entered the Rotunda Theatre to find a seat, I was pleasantly taken aback by the theatre’s daring stage configuration. It provoked strong feelings of intrigue, and I imagine the Directors had to work extremely hard to make it all work (I’ll leave it to you to see said challenge for yourself). If the stage configuration alone didn’t scream “defying conventions”, the wonderful pre-show soundtrack, compiled by sound designer Elliot Maxwell, certainly did. Before the three-show series of student work even began, Maxwell effectively provided a specific tone and, with the help of Head of Audio and Lighting Designer (Jen Laws), immersed me into a hauntingly beautiful world.
Kodie Rollan wrote the first play, titled Nuclear. Nuclear centres around a 1950s nuclear family that is addicted to their television set. Everything the news reporters on the screen say is believed full heartedly by each whacky family member, with the exception of the teenage daughter, Lucy (Kelsey Houston), who is wonderfully rational. Great comedic timing is one of the highlights of this play, especially from the two news reporters Barbara and Rodney (Alex Martin and Braydon Keilty). There are absolutely many moments in Nuclear that will have you keeling over with laughter.
The second play, Tarantula, written by the talented Sean Meldrum, tackles the common obsession with fame and the extent to which we will go to achieve it. It starts off with Bobby (Ben Sterlin) and Lily (Madison Horton) setting up a surprise birthday party for their friend. I would argue that the real party begins when Lily leaves to get the ice. Let’s just say that something happens with a vacuum, and Sterlin’s phenomenal stage presence is an absolute riot. Horton and Sterlin’s chemistry together is incredible to watch, as is the opposing characteristics of the suave and intelligent Isaac (Devon Jackson) and clueless Sonny (Evan Lepp).
After a 15-minute intermission, it was time to watch Austin Tobe’s play, Where I’ll Be. Drastically different in tone from the previous two, this piece is about a family grieving from the loss of wife and mother Ingrid (Kelly Nice) after the 9/11 attacks. I felt very absorbed in everyone’s performance, particularly Samantha Wilson’s portrayal of Lilah, the family’s youngest daughter. One of the most moving portions of the play was a specific lighting effect that took place near the beginning of the play. The effect evoked a feeling of grief in me right from the start, which continued throughout the performance.
In general, I walked away from Drama Studio Series on the Brink with a smile, and an urge to talk to people about what I saw. The Drama Studio Series is an excellent creative outlet for all Queen’s University students interested in theatre. If you have never seen their shows before, now would be an ideal time to do so. For only $4.00 you can watch three excellent plays that put you On The Brink in various ways (look Mom, I’m a poet).
Drama Studio Series on the Brink runs from January 29th-31st in the Rotunda Theatre, located in Theological Hall.
Luke Brown, Online Contributor
Photography: Tim Fort