November 3, 2011
Corday/Evelynn Frayn, played by Erika Daun, raises a dagger above Marat/Joan De'Lamar, played by Bridget Hillyer, but does she follow through? Find out this weekend when The College of Wooster presents "Marat/Sade" in Shoolroy Theatre. Tickets are available by calling the box office at 330-263-2241. (Photo by Matt Dilyard)
WOOSTER, Ohio — It’s insane!
How else could one describe The College of Wooster’s clever production of Peter Weiss’s “Marat/Sade,” which opened last weekend at Shoolroy Theatre (across the hall from Freedlander Theatre – 329 E. University St.) and returns this weekend (Nov. 4-5 at 8:15 p.m.)?
Directed by James Levin, “Marat Sade” is a play within a play, as the residents of an asylum (in this case, a fictitious local facility for juvenile offenders) present “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat” to a curious public audience.
Even before the production begins, audience members discover that this is no ordinary play. Rounded up in the lobby and herded to the back of the building, patrons file through an alternative entrance that has a foreboding look and feel.
Along the way, they encounter residents (cast members), who are only too anxious to invade their personal space and make them feel, well, a little uncomfortable — which is exactly what Levin wants. Once inside, the chaos continues as residents and guards clash. Eventually, the play begins, but it’s often difficult to separate the script from the outbursts and sideshows by the inmates — no doubt an intentional element of the production, which features threads of revolution and justice throughout.
Once patrons settle comfortably (or not so comfortably) in their seats, they are intrigued and entertained by the energy, the rhythm, and the music. Yes, this group of students/ inmates is quite talented, both vocally and instrumentally with a combination of weary but hopeful musical numbers — not unlike that of “Les Miserables” — that decry persecution and celebrate revolution.
Also central to this production is a large video screen, often split into four quadrants, which simultaneously shows close ups of the actors and the audience as well as other unseen portions of the facility where inmates who misbehave are quarantined.
The ensemble cast has many noteworthy performers, including Rudy Christian, one of two non-student actors, who is compelling in his dramatic portrayal of Mr. De Sade, and senior Bridget Hillyer, who is equally persuasive in her fatalistic representation of Joan De’Lamar (a.k.a. Marat). In addition, Erika Daun is chilling in her dazed depiction of Evelynn Frayn (a.k.a. Corday); Gareth McNamara is versatile and engaging as the radical priest Jacques Roux; and Kevin Glass is animated as Herald 1 and talented as the keyboard player.
If you’re a risk taker, and even if you’re not, “Marat/Sade” is well worth the price of admission ($9 for general admission/$6 for students). It’s far from your traditional theatre experience and possibly somewhat out of your comfort zone, but, hey, everyone needs to a little jolt once in a while.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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