'God' that's good theater
Par for the course, the University’s Drama department’s most recent production proved that big emotion can spring from the smallest of stages. In the hands of guest director Sandy Shinner, God’s Ear shined in the Helms black box theater.
God’s Ear follows the story of a couple caught in the aftermath of their son’s death. Arts & Sciences graduate students Sandi Carroll and Brad Frazier, who play the husband and wife, handle this difficult script with remarkable grace. Carroll did an especially good job of directly communicating her character’s anxiety to the audience while Frazier, in turn, expressed his own more faintly, generating a captivating push and pull dynamic that gave their relationship an extra boost of energy. Together, the two carried themselves harmoniously under the weight of playwright Jenny Schwartz’s often overworked wordplay.
Shinner’s other actors worked beautifully around Carroll and Frazier. Fourth-year College student Emily Via was incredibly convincing as the young daughter Lanie, reaching a great balance of humor, innocence and insight in her interrogative monologue. Fourth-year College student Claire McKercher played the ditsy Lenora with a picture of crazy-eyed desperation and, with Frazier and fourth-year College student Daniel Prillaman, brought wild absurdity to scenes that might otherwise have been a bust.
The show’s design stood just as strongly as the acting. The steps and layers of Arts & Sciences graduate student Jason Randolph’s stage, along with well-placed projections and fly-in props, added dimension to the otherwise small space. Arts & Sciences graduate student Jake Kvanbeck lit the show with subtle blues and the occasional blaze of pattern, isolating each piece of the stage, as needed, to create the impression of distance, both physically and emotionally, between the characters on stage. Fourth-year College student C.J. Whitaker and third-year College student Joe Crittenden’s sound choices coordinated seamlessly with the show’s lights and projection, never failing to reinvigorate each slow moment with just the right burst of energy..
Arts & Sciences graduate student Sarah Bryan’s costumes supported the show’s peculiar attempt to mix the realistic with the fantastical. By intentionally clothing the actors to create a drastic contrast between the family and more outlandish characters like the Tooth Fairy, Bryan both accommodated the absurdity of certain scenes and tied together the otherwise disparate elements.
God’s Ear showed for the past two weeks and attracted a nearly full house every night of production.