East of Easton, A Beastly Evening
by Olivia Atwood on Friday, March 8th, 2013On Friday, February 22nd, while most of the school was storming the court after the incredible buzzer-beating varsity basketball win against Nobles, a smaller yet equally enthusiastic crowd was also on their feet, giving a standing O to the cast and crew of East of Easton, this winter’s 1212 production. “[I was] initially worried [about the scheduling conflict between the game and the show] but our turnout was great and our audience was really supportive,” notes Eva Grant (I). I was one of that small crowd, and while I did exit the theatre to hear the proud chants of my fellow orange and blue clad classmates, I found myself reflecting on the show I had just seen rather than screaming about missing the history making game. (Okay, that’s a partial lie. Yes, I was a tad upset when at least six of my friends texted me this message: “You missed the most unbelievable game!” I quickly recovered, however, and that night found myself sitting at my kitchen counter, reviewing the playbill and trying to pick my favorite scenes rather than eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and re-watching the game’s final breath-taking moments.)
But I digress. The play was, truly, quite marvelous. The 1212, rather than a full-throttle show, was a series of 10 well-crafted one acts called East of Easton written by William Donnelly. While some scenes dealt with romance, other scenes were as simple as blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. With a serious focus on “acting,” and less of a focus on “the production,” the 1212 crafted a show built around the quality of the characters.
Alexandra Aulum (I), Caleb Warren (I), Eva Grant (I), Maddie Landau (IV), Oliver Bok (I), Rubye Peyser (II), and Sean Sylva (II) were the students featured in the show, each of them playing about five different characters or appearing in five different scenes. My favorite scenes were: Behind the Glass, Rushamon, Mondays and Other Days, and You Know Why You Are Here. But almost everyone I have spoken to likes a different assortment of scenes. Rubye Peyser says that her favorite was Procession, a scene in which she and Sean Slyva drove in a funeral procession together despite being recently divorced. Eva Grant says her favorite scene was “This is Year Zero,” a scene between her and Maddie Landau where they play aspiring female rocker types who are continually let down by their band mates but never give up. All of the scenes were very strong. Not many shows can be as risky as the 1212 dared to be, opening with the actors, playing newborns, lined up on stage in blankets and full-blown baby bonnets, but the 1212 pulled it off with grace.
The true strength of the show lay in its surprises. For example, I happen to know for a fact that Eva Grant claims to be incapable of comedy. I beg to differ. If I hadn’t known Grant’s normal style, I would have thought from her performance in East of Easton that comedy was her genre of choice. From her first appearance as an angry “wet” baby to her hilarious scene as a crazy, bouncy office lady, to her walk-ons and one-liners later on, Eva wracked up uproarious laughter every time she set foot on stage. She delivered lines with the skill of a girl who has been doing comedy since year zero (look at me, making cool play references!) Oliver Bok also shined as a caring and perhaps overwhelmed new father on the playground, a role that drastically differed from his signature gruff, gross, and slightly sloppy character (see: Toby Belch in 12th Night and the drunken man in Rushamon). Alexandra Aulum, though acting for the first time since sophomore year, came off as a natural on the stage, especially strong in her scene Sick Day, where she and a fantastic Caleb Warren (I) played off each other. Sean Sylva (II) was smooth and brilliant on the stage despite being a first time actor, and Rubye Peyser (II) was calm, cool, collected, and stunning in all of her roles. Both Eva and Rubye were “really proud of Maddie [Landau].” They each noted that they “would not have been able to [act in a 1212 with juniors and seniors] as a freshman.” Landau was indeed excellent, particularly in Strangers on a Playground, where she played a somewhat neurotic mother alongside Bok.
East of Easton was a thrill to watch, and I find myself still contemplating it today. I can still see Caleb delivering his hilarious speech in the office or later strolling across the stage in brightly colored swim trunks, and Eva Grant dancing to Party in the USA. The 1212 was a unique theatre experience, and I know you’re slapping yourself in the face for not heading out to see it if you didn’t make the trek to Wigg Hall. But fear not. The spring 1212 is only a few months away
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