Theatre arts department leaves audience ‘Laughing with Durang’

The Channels Art Pages | CRITICAL REVIEW

Ben Crop
Liz Gates in front of Jackie Shearn, George Sullivan and Lexie Brent in the Theatre department’s production of “Laughing with Durang,” a collection of five plays by Christopher Durang on Oct. 29 at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Photo courtesy of Ben Crop.

Melissa Garcia, Staff Writer

The theatre arts department presented a series of plays by Christopher Durang titled “Laughing With Durang” at their preview night on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The show is directed by adjunct instructor Matt Talbott and features Durang’s six unique plays including: “Medea,” “Funeral Parlor,” “The Doctor Will See You Now,” “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” and “Wanda’s Visit.”

All of the cast’s performances were great, as many of the scenes made me feel as if it was not a play but instead actual real-life situations. The way they portrayed their characters made it so realistic and added to the entertaining feel of the show.

Several scenarios during the play were at times silly and overly dramatic for my taste. Instead of judging the performance itself just on those few scenes, I instead looked for how they added to the show as a whole.

A scene during “Medea” disturbed an audience member in front of me due to its involvement of political figures. However, many other members of the audience seemed to enjoy the scene as soft giggles filled the room during it.

The show finishes with “Wanda’s Visit,” featuring a couple who are unhappy and feeling stuck after 13 years of marriage. Then the husband’s high school sweetheart comes to town to visit and gives them an unpleasant time her whole stay. I wanted to kick the ex-girlfriend out of the house myself during the scene because she would not stop talking.

The background was made of white hanging boards that projectors displayed the different backgrounds on. It helped create a neutral setting that was able to switch into different scenes with little change needed.

When I first arrived, I glanced up towards the ceiling where I saw all the light beams and projectors pointed at the stage. It was interesting to see how the stage crew created the backgrounds.  

“Laughing with Durang” had a different setting than I am used to, which made the show feel more intimate and fun. Instead of a regular theatre setup, the audience members sat diagonally facing each other. 

The performers stood at an eye-sight level right in front of the audience. It helped the actors and actresses constantly engage with the crowd, and kept my attention for the show.

“Laughing With Durang” will be performed until Saturday, Nov. 20 at City College’s Jurkowitz Theatre.

Tickets are $10 for students, $15 for seniors and City College employees, and $18 for general admission. They can be bought on the theatre’s website or by calling the box office at (805) 965-5935.