Monday, April 09, 2007

COM: Blogarthmic #225

ARTS MONDAY: A Warm Welcome For Loeb Ex Play
By APRIL B. WANG , Harvard Crimson Staff Writer, Monday, April 09, 2007 12:43 AM

When a jabbering, flourescently-dressed Marielle E. Woods ’08 first strutted onto the stage of “Reception” with a shell-shocked Jonah C. Priour ’09 in tow, I followed Priour’s example and settled back into my seat in chagrined resignation. Woods’ schizophrenic movements within the confines of the bedroom set was quickly making me claustrophobic, and I thought that the rest of the play would be similarly overdone.

But I quickly got used to the non-stop flapping of both Woods’ hands and jaws, and it became easy to appreciate just how brilliantly annoying Woods is as an obsessive-compulsive mother-of-the-bride. Not to mention the perpetual chaos and energy that she—and the entire cast—generated in the Loeb Experimental Theatre.

Directed by Simon Nicholas ’07 and co-produced by Zachary B. S. Sniderman ’09 and Haining Gouinlock ’07, the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club’s (HRDC) production of “Reception,” played at the Loeb Experimental Theater April 5-7.

In “Reception,” a play by L.M. Vincent, a young psychologist, Blair (Priour), comes to Meg’s (Woods) Boston apartment. He plans to sabotage the engagement of Meg’s daughter Melissa (Anna I. Polonyi ’10), for whom Meg is throwing an engagement party and with whom Blair has been in love since high school . . .

If there was a central point of interest, it would be Priour. The experienced student actor was captivating as soon as he stepped onstage, adorably polite and awkward as he endured Meg’s incessant chattering. When Priour was on stage, the stage belonged to him—even if he was only sitting in a chair twiddling his thumbs at stage right, while two of his clients were in the throes of passion upon the bed at stage center.

There were many great scenes in this production, but two in particular stood out. In the first act, Priour delivered a fantastic soliloquy about his character’s love for Melissa, addressed to himself in the bedroom mirror and punctuated by occasional breaths from an inhaler.

But nowhere did Priour impress as much as in his last scene, when he was beset by a gripping, realistic asthma attack after he confessed his feelings to Melissa. It was the one scene completely devoid of the comic element, and was shocking after the almost 90 minutes of straight chaos and humor that ran beforehand. It jerked me out of my laughter and into tears within a second.

“Reception” was a madhouse, a party even more hectic than and almost as nonsensical as the Mad Hatter’s tea party in “Alice in Wonderland.” It was pure fun, and a pleasure to be a guest.

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