I’m not talking about the Duke game — grrrr — but about the Marlboro College performance of Angels in America. The cast and crew, drawn from a very small college population (Marlboro has around 350 students total), outdid themselves last night — an overpowering performance, of which everyone involved should be very proud.
I had not seen the play before; when it came out, we didn’t have practical access to any performances, and by the time it hit video or DVD I didn’t feel like stirring up the memories of those days (on the rare occasion when the family was willing to watch a Serious Movie); watching this performance really did bring back a suppressed tub of queasy, ominous, tragic feelings. I had the recurrent sense that I knew those guys, and seeing Si as one of them — he played Louis, a particularly troubling character — amplified the sense that these lives were part of my life.
All the actors were great. In contexts that might tend to invite overplaying (undergrad theatre, small campus, hyperdramatic scenario involving sometimes-histrionic characters), every player rang true. The student who played Si’s lover carried the role exceptionally well, and student who played Harper Pitt just amazed me with the subtly of her reading. Si’s roommate Simon played Joe Pitt utterly convincingly, suggesting his pain and ambivalence with nuanced departures from a baseline of stolid impassiveness.
It was hard to see Si play the part of yet another tormented unsympathetic character; someday I’d like to see him in a positive, blithe, heroic role. Knowing him as we do, when we see him portray someone high-strung, and embittered, it’s harder not to see his performance as acting. That being said, at the key moments of the play, I winced at his betrayal of love and integrity. He was great in an unrewarding role, with a terrific cast around him, and the whole night was utterly captivating.
Now, we have to clean up, pack, check out, have brunch with Si, Laura, Jeanne, and Pippa, and then travel back to our respective destinations. And Duke better win the ACC Tournament — I’m just saying.