Eugène Ionesco’s one-act comedy, “The Bald Soprano,” opens Wednesday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. and runs through Sunday, Dec. 12 in the Bruce Davis Theater, Montgomery Hall.
Ticket prices are $4 or $6, general admission.
To make reservations, call the Theater Box Office at 240-895-4243 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Produced by the Department of Theater, Film, and Media Studies and directed by faculty member Mark A. Rhoda, “The Bald Soprano” performs Dec. 8-11 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 2 p.m.
Between 1950 and 1955, French playwright Ionesco wrote a series of one-act “nonsense” plays.
These so-called “absurdist” plays, which Ionesco dubbed “anti-plays” or “comedies of comedies,” capture in ways both wildly funny and darkly humorous post-war feelings of alienation and the impossibility and futility of communication.
“Describe ‘The Bald Soprano’?,” director Rhoda laughs. “Well, to steal a line from that great 1950 movie, ‘All About Eve,’ ‘Fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be a bumpy night.’
“I partly chose to direct Ionesco’s bizarre little play because it is a hilarious antidote and fitting complement to the verbal virtuosity of Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever,” the comedy that recently closed in the Bruce Davis Theater.
“Unlike Coward’s play, Ionesco’s sets out show how human discourse devolves into platitudinous inanity and triviality. Language, or more accurately, its non-sense, savagely betrays the banality and ferocity of our living, to both laugh-out-loud and mock-tragic consequence.”
The premise of Ionesco’s comedy is simple. Everything reeks of English: from the determinedly middle-class English interior, replete with English armchairs and an English fireplace, to the not-so-proper and overworked Mary (junior Jess O’Rear), the English maid, and her sidekick, the Butler (sophomore Nick Huber), who’s as reliable as the always-malfunctioning grand English clock, which repeatedly strikes 17 or 29 or 15 English strokes.
In this world, middle-aged couple Mr. and Mrs. Smith (senior Maxwell Heaton ‘12 and junior Lisa M. Davidson), who are the spitting image of the 1940’s radio couple, the Bickersons, unexpectedly host the young married couple, the Martins (junior Jonathan M. Wagner and sophomore Emily Moore), who seem not to know each other or to be married to one another.
Into their midst arrives the Fire Chief (junior Zach Eser), Mary’s past lover, who’s on official business to douse a fire and, to the thrill of the Smiths and the Martins, to tell a few funny stories.
But the Smith and Martin get-together, while seemingly innocent at first blush, careens toward uncomprehending disaster.
And in that wicked twist at the end lies Ionesco’s equally wicked humor.
“The Bald Soprano” performs for one week only.