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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Experimenal Theater Board performs one-acts by David Ives

<er the direction of Lee Conrads ’12 and Sam Dunnewold ’12, Experimental Theater Board’s (ETB) performance of David Ives’ one-acts last weekend covered the concepts of love and dating, artistic creativity and writing, and miniature golf. Each short play used an unusual and clever conceit to explore universal themes, creating a series of shaper vignettes, which all together lasted under one hour.

In “Foreplay,” we see a date night at a miniature golf course. The female partners Amy, Annie, and Alma each respond differently to the males. The men, all named Chuck, are more consistent; each one produces the same mini-golf joke for the ladies’ admiration (Amy), scorn (Annie) or confusion (Alma).

From dating to love lost, we transition to “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread.” The actors initially speak only a handful of lines. The spoken phrases are then deconstructed into their component words, which are rearranged and recited in rhythmic patterns to form an unusual musical composition. The new arrangement, with the help of choreography, tells a story of former lovers and their consternation at an unexpected encounter in a bakery.

The third play, “Words, Words, Words” explores the theme of composition. It depicts three chimpanzees named Swift, Milton and Kafka writing on their typewriters to fulfill the whim of an unseen experimenter, Doctor Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum’s goal may be to prove that three chimps, typing for an infinite length of time, will produce “Hamlet,” but the subjects of the experiment worry more about stimulating their creativity, the literary value of their creations, and how to earn cigarettes from the humans observing them.

The evening concluded with “English Made Simple.” Characters Jack and Jill meet at a party, then play different roles in a series of classic encounters: meetings between new acquaintances, old friends and bitter former lovers. As in “Words, Words, Words,” an academic dispassionately watches this drama. However, in this play we see and hear the academic commenting on the nature of each conversation. Eventually, Jack and Jill defy their grammatically meticulous observer to express their new infatuation with one another in less-than-perfect English.

In all, Conrads and Dunnewold put together a fun show. David Ives writes clever dialogue, keeping his plays interesting with his words and themes rather than a gripping plot. Considering the number of short plays, this style could have made it difficult for the audience to maintain an interest in the performance. However, the brisk pace of each one-act kept the evening short, sweet and snappy.

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