Satan and Trotsky take center stage

Not only did the talented members of All College Theater (ACT) succeed in producing four entertaining, student-directed, one-act plays for their 2008 Evening of Shorts, but they succeeding in producing four pieces of thought-provoking theater.

Each play had moments that elicited laughter from the audience in the Don Evans Black Box Theater, but a common element of this year’s plays seemed to be the examination of complex issues that plague the human condition.

Directed by junior computer science major Andrew Timmes, the first play, titled “Controlling Interest,” provides a window into a life-changing afternoon for a group of young boys. As if stepping into an episode of “The Rugrats,” the audience observes these boys as they interact with the finesse of adults. Jack, played by senior communication studies major James Introcaso, is the boys’ unofficial leader.

“I called this meeting to discuss the possibility of us liking girls,” Jack declares.

Jack brings in two young girls as consultants on the matter and the well executed, panicked facial expressions of the young boys as the girls talk about their futures together were reminders of the fleeting nature of childhood.

At the conclusion of “Controlling,” when Jack closes up his cupboard of Star Wars action figures, the audience’s cries of “aw” were a testament to how well the cast conveyed the universal feeling of lost innocence.

The night’s second play, “Removing the Glove,” chronicled the struggle of Will, played by senior communication studies major Sean Curry, who was struggling to come out to his family and friends about a secret he has been hiding – he is left handed.

Curry was convincing as the pitiable outsider in a world that segregates lefties, making it rough to watch him “come out of the glove compartment.”

Although the play was laced with humor, especially enhanced by junior communication studies major Maria Montroni’s laugh-out-loud turn as left-handed support group member “Loony Lulu,” the most powerful component was the underlying message of the absurdity of prejudice.

Ray Fallon, sophomore English major, wrote “Dawn,” a play that forces audience members to examine their beliefs. Fallon humanizes the biblical story of creation, taking revered figures and infusing them with wacky character quirks.

The devilishly charming Satan, played by Matt Uhrich, junior communication studies major, is angry that God’s attention is occupied by her creation, Adam. Adam, played by junior interactive multimedia major Craig Hinners, is ignorant about the goings on in Eden and his aloofness is heightened by Hinners’ choice to make Adam speak like Keanu Reeves’ Ted from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”

In “Dawn,” it is Adam who eats the forbidden apple, angering his creator, who then banishes Adam and Eve.

Satan consoles God at the play’s conclusion, saying: “You did the best you could for them and they turned their backs on you.”

“You’re right,” God says. “These people are on their own!”

“Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” was the evening’s final production, directed by junior biology major Arun Gurunathan.

“Variations” explores the death of Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky, who was killed when Soviet agent Ramón Mercader drove an ice pick into his skull. The play twists the events of history, changing the murder weapon to a mountain climber’s axe and delivering nine versions of the leader’s assassination.

Junior philosophy major Vegas Lancaster portrayed Trotsky and garnered laughs from the audience as he maneuvered on stage with an axe protruding from his head.

Humor aside, “Variations” ends on a somber note with Trotsky lamenting about the finality of death.

“A couple people have told me that I made them cry at the end of our play,” Lancaster said in an interview after the performance.

“I love that the shorts has such a big cast and so many people get an opportunity to participate,” “Removing the Glove” cast member Alyssa Phillips said. “I’m very happy with the way it turned out.”