SubUrbia’s Strong Performances Connect With Audience

SubUrbia is a heartfelt, emotional roller-coaster that pulls the audience in and does not let go. The cast’s performance enthralls the audience as they watch conflicts and relationships unfold with visceral and unrelenting emotionality.

This play, directed by Josh Bristol, tells the story of a single night of five young adults as they struggle to come to terms with what they want, who they are, and where they are going. It starts out as a typical night for the group, getting drunk and high, listening to music, getting yelled at by the manager of the 7-11 and just hanging out. They laugh, they argue, they fight, but then their old friend, Pony, stops by. He has achieved some fame touring and playing music and his return only escalates the problems of the night. It is a play about people who don’t know what they want; who are angry and confused and a little bit scared about life in general. As a group and as individuals they address the doubts and problems that everyone faces in one form or another.

The audience is able to identify the traits of their friends and of themselves in these men and women. They are drawn into their arguments and their caresses; the audience will care what happens to these people. By the end the show they will most likely feel emotionally drained. They begin to discover that no one is without troubles and the world isn’t as perfect and orderly as it might seem.

The small cast of nine members has excellent chemistry. Both their heated rapports and light hearted scuffles inspire a sense of history, that the characters have truly known each other for years. The trio of Jeff, Tim, and Buff (seniors Adam Curtis, Jonathan Noble, and Alex Vaughan, respectively) feel like a group of kids have gotten together every weekend since elementary school. Their exchanges are strong, their silences even more so; they are redolent of the friendships that rival brotherhood.

Sooze and Pony (first-years Emily Atkins and Jonathan Wagner) act the parts of artists trying to discover how to express themselves with great conviction. As they struggle with their pasts, they must find a way to escape what beleaguers them. Beebee (senior Kiki Possick) and Erica (senior Alana Slater) are attempting to find meaning in the seemingly unending repetition of their lives. Their struggles are acted out in different but equally striking manners.

Both Norman (senior Adam Wise) and Pakeesa (senior Catherine Meringolo) play staff at the 7-11 where the kids hang out. At first, they seem to be the stereotypical mangers who just get annoyed at loiterers. But, through the earnest performance of these two actors, the audience learns that everyone has their dreams and their troubles, and everyone feels stuck in some way.

This show is very dependent on the interactions between cast members and they do not disappoint. Lines drip with emotion and strike the audience with their weight. Overall, the cast does an excellent job of expressing the wide gamut of emotions.

The set is a 7-11 storefront, impressively fitted with a real dumpster and a scruffy, well-worn look. Beer bottles, crates, trash and cigarette butts feel very natural to the convincing street-side convenience store set.
Aside from minimal line mistakes and a late sound cue, there was not much to detract from this show. The audience really gets a sense of a search for meaning and the hopelessness that is sometimes not far behind.

The cast delivers the dialogue which can be rife with profanity, with great fervor. The audience will laugh, cry, and feel disgust and empathy throughout the course of this performance. This approximately 2 ½ hour show is definitely a worthwhile way to spend an evening.

SubUrbia will be showing December 10-13 at 8:00 PM and December 14 at 2:00 PM in Bruce Davis Theatre in Montgomery Hall. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office in Montgomery Hall; prices are $4 for students, faculty, SMCM staff, senior citizens, and Arts Alliance members; $6 general admission.

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