Stickin' it to the man since 1927.
Writer: Hannah Yukon
Director: Danny Zeliger
Dramedy. It’s perhaps the most common genre and one of the broadest, encompassing any blend of comedy and drama. And what a hard balance it is; if the greatest cliché a critic can give is “I laughed and I cried” is it better to do both at once? And is it wrong for a show to segregate them to the point that the two don’t function as a whole?
Hannah Yukon’s new dramedy And…Likewise tries to walk this fine line. It starts simply and lightly enough, with a girl named Sue (played by the ever brilliant Alex Tennant), her newly ex-boyfriend Lee (Wyndham Maxwell), and her flirty lesbian one-time college lover Dylan (Shauna Noone), who is returning from France to seduce her. The comic possibilities of such a trio are endless, with the majority of the first act being a long, ceaselessly hilarious sequence between Sue and Dylan that’s mined for more awkwardness and joy than I’ve seen in any play in years.
Indeed, the first act’s greatest strength isn’t just that it’s funny, but the sheer variety of the humor. There are suggestive jokes that manage to be explicitly sexual but not crude; character-driven awkwardness; a ridiculous comic-relief waiter (Justus Hepbun, whose character seems borrowed from Vapor Liquid Snow Solid); and, most memorably, an unexpected scene of slapstick followed by some disgustingly joyous toilet humor, all performed without missing a beat or feeling out of place. There is also a multitude of referential jokes, not just to Vapor but also to 4.48 Psychosis, such ad when Sue is always being told that she has grown her (short) hair out. (Tennant shaved her hair for her performance last semester.)
The first act ends with a flashback sequence that is filled with more character humor and which sets up a twist rife with comic possibilities. But instead of using them, the second act shifts the focus from the comedy-with-a-little-drama of the first act to a frustratingly melodramatic breakup story with many desperate screams of how “It’s over!” a relationship is, but with little comedy, character, or indeed, interest. A misplaced leeds to awkward blocking in the first act (courtesy of director Danny Zeliger) and becomes disastrous in the second act whenever someone came through the door, and becomes the lynchpin of the drama. And the play abandons its most compelling thread by not including two characters introduced at the end of the first act, instead simply complaining about their actions in a way that feels disproportionate, wrong, and lacking in serious discussion or sympathy.
While not completely devoid of humor, the second act is a huge letdown after the first, and shows that sometimes in order for drama to work it needs to be balanced with as opposed to separated from the comedy.
By Ethan Goldstein
Writer: Shauna Noone
Director: Hannah Yukon
Dysfunctional families are a cornerstone of comedy, providing centuries of bickering and conflict for the entertainment of others. Like Mold revels in this dysfunction and is hugely entertaining because of it. While the plot is not quite farce, the extreme characters and strong comic performances tip the play towards complete nonsensicality. There is a fine line between stupidly silly and brilliantly silly, and Shauna Noone’s work falls in the latter category.
The setting is a family Christmas, and Laura (Megan Jones) dreads taking her boyfriend Matt (Holden Beale) to meet her overbearing family, consisting of mom Angela (Tyler Rosati), brother Eric (Jacob Gordon), and family friend Chicky (Chloe Sternlicht). Thus the stage is set for excessive drinking, Christmas tree stealing, pissing in bowls, and drug deals. The standard delivery is yelling, threats of violence are liberally sprinkled among family members, and it completely works. Audience applause filled scene changes, and there were real belly laughs.
Much of the success of Like Mold can be accredited to the excellent cast. Jones and Gordon are great at portraying bickering siblings, and Sternlicht gives a fabulous performance as the most unhinged character. Beale (he does our last name credit) is funny and pitiable as the neurotic and timid boyfriend, mercilessly inundated physically and emotionally by the family’s extreme Christmas celebrations. Matt represents the outsider unprepared for this level of weirdness, somewhat like the audience. Unfortunately for Matt, the audience gets to just watch and laugh without being sucked into the madness.
The primary force of the play is the character of Angela, the psychotic mother portrayed by Tyler Rosati – in drag. She presides over the strange Christmas circus, assigning outlandish costumes, illegal tasks, and the preparation of the bizarre Christmas feast. Raging and yelling and screeching and pissing on things, Rosati gave a powerfully unhinged performance.
Despite the rage and insanity of the play, the ultimate impression is positive towards family. Like a shackle, or mold, it is always there, always clinging. Even members of a family like this find solace in each other, will protect their traditions, and help each other out. Christmas night is shown through random snippets of drug-fuelled insanity – requiring the cast to play ‘musical chairs’ in the dark while readying for the next mini-scene – brilliantly leaving most of the events to the imagination of the audience. This is followed by a calm reflection from a dazed Matt, relaxed and happy for the first time, that “you can’t walk into a war zone and leave unchanged.”
By Natalie Beale