BSU Theater brings technology and a new twist to an old play

By Molly Bello
Comment Columnist

It’s about relationships. It’s about the hilarious, dysfunctional relationships everyone has in their own families. It’s a look into how families work, through a serious lens, a tender lens, and a comical lens.

The Marriage of Bette and Boo premieres Fri., April 24 at 8 p.m. in the RCC auditorium.

Professor Jim Quinn is directing this show, and has directed it before at Boston University. He loved working on it, and decided to propose they perform it here at Bridgewater State University.

Quinn explains that The Marriage of Bette and Boo is a great show for the college-aged crowd. The show is a lot of fun, and everyone can feel as though they fit in somewhere with the story.

“The play started as anecdotes, funny stories about  [playwright] Christopher Durang’s family, then was turned into a short novel about family issues,” Quinn said. “He abstracted everything, [it’s the] theatre of the absurd.”

The play is what’s known as a memory play, the main character Matt (aka Skippy) recalls old memories about family members, and many scenes are based on his foggy recollections.

“Personal memories are like snapshots contained that way because they are frozen in a photo,” Quinn said. “The characters are presented in a 2D way because [we see them just as] in Matt’s own memory.”

“We are using technology to enhance his memories and bring photographs of his parents, grandparents etc to life to tell the story,” student actress Allison Davis, who plays Emily Brennan, said. “Our director has been working with the sound and light crew to bring this story of a rather dysfunctional family to life.”

This show utilizes projection screens to help animate the photographs, and transition in between scenes. Quinn said this technology has advanced significantly since the first time he directed the show.

There are three screens used in this performance, and the seating arrangement has been altered so that the audience can properly view each screen. The screens switch between showing images and video.

“The play definitely teeters on being dark,” Davis said. “But the playwright  uses comedy to offset the darker parts.”

Quinn emphasizes one of the overarching themes in the play, “People can’t prevent their own mistakes because they can’t stand back and see themselves.”

This is something Matt explores through the play, as he sees the mistakes that his family  makes, he wonders if he is making the same mistakes over and over without realizing.

This show brought together passionate students and faculty. “The new faculty costumer designer and lighting designer are doing amazing things,” Quinn said.

They also have an alumni building the set for the show.The props are all cardboard painted black, used to represent the negative space, and the concept that certain things are blurry in our memories, and we may not remember exactly what the chair, or the cello looked like.

Quinn had a video of the show he directed at BU, but decided against watching it when approaching it here at BSU. Directing the play using the script and his memory would mirror the importance of memory in the play itself

“There are multiple ways to play characters,” Quinn said. “Different interpretations work, this shows just how much actors bring to a role.”

Quinn expressed how impressed he was with all the students working in and on the show.

“This is a good ensemble of people. They band together for the play,” Quinn said. “They work together really well, and all support each other. It’s relaxed, fun and there’s no stress.”

The Marriage of Bette and Boo will show this weekend, Fri. the 24 and Sat. the 25, at 8 p.m., as well as Sun. April 26 at 2 p.m. The following week the show will be on Thurs. April 30, followed by Fri. May 1 and Sat. May 2 at 8 p.m.

Molly Bello is a Comment Columnist.

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