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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

This is What Sticks: a real look at youth anxiety

<ir="ltr">This is What Sticks (and how to clean your room), written by Kristen Nassar ’16, will perform for the third and final time tonight at 7:00 in Little Nourse. The play is Nassar’s English comps and is directed by Nora Katz ’16. The play follows young teenager Alicia Martin through the tumult that takes over her family life as her sister, Sylvie, returns home to recover from her eating disorder.

The play deals with a difficult and challenging topic in a creative and effective way: wherever Alicia goes, inside or outside of her house, her insecurities follow her in the form of a Greek chorus. The four chorus members sometimes appear as imaginary people only Alicia can see, and sometimes appear as real people who pop up wherever she goes, bringing her anxieties into the real world. Familiar themes of adolescence, sisterhood and identity play out in new contexts onstage as the chorus confronts Alicia and, eventually, Sylvie with their worst fears. Seeing how the sisters respond is what makes the play so interesting and original.

The eight-person cast brings a well-written script to life with energy and authenticity. The relationship between Alicia and Sylvie, played by Pavana Khan ’19 and Florence Wong ’16, respectively, feels genuine and realistic. The theme of coming-of-age is a common one, but no aspect of the sisters’ characters, their relationship or the play as a whole feels like a cliché. There is no magic solution to their problems, and they each struggle in different ways, both with themselves and with each other. I wanted the complexities of their relationship to be addressed somewhat more, but the focus on Alicia was an effective and engrossing way to tell the story.

The audience gets to know the parents, too. Played by Peter Centner ’16 and Ellen Perkins ’17, we hear their sides of the story through surreal, somewhat dreamlike scenes that mix comedy and tragedy in a unique way. While I wished that there had been a little more to their storyline, they skillfully bring the complex family dynamic to the stage and portray the complexities of parenthood.

Ultimately, the most nontraditional aspects of the play were some of their best. From the decoration of the entire theater with Alicia’s welcome-home decorations for her sister to the dialogue of the members of the chorus, This is What Sticks takes powerful themes in new directions that make for a compelling production. I highly recommend seeing it tonight.

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