Thursday, November 17, 2011

Only this Fall

The best performance I saw at Tufts my freshman year was "Oleanna." Hands-down, no question. It's a two-person play, it's full of anger and frustration, and it's hard to breathe normally after coming out of it. It's everything a play should be: dramatic, but realistic. No spontaneous singing, no elegant Shakespeare, no outrageous costumes: just real. Real enough to induce emotional reactions. This year, that play is "Next Fall," and it's going on now. If you didn't see it Thursday night, cancel your Friday or Saturday 8pm plans. You're going to the Balch Arena Theater. If you see one performance this year, make it this one.

I can't give anything away; you deserve the full experience. I will say that the performance has it sad points, and its laughs. It jumps back and forth through time, flashing between what was and is. The set evolves; actors play on one section of the stage in one scene, but that set doesn't disappear when the next pieces are introduced for the next scene. The transitional music is perfect; you don't for a minute lose the atmosphere.

As the show goes on, the acting gets better. By the time complex and choreographed movement is unfolding, it feels perfectly natural, perfectly real. A struggle for a coat becomes breathtaking; speaking about a sandbox elicits audience tears. It's fierce.

The show is sponsored by the Tufts' Department of Religion. The LGBT center has an insert in the program. The cast and crew study religion, psychology, and drama. These aren't just clues, they're reasons. Reasons why this is the kind of production you need to see for yourself.

It's about falls, I suppose. The season, the action. There are literal falls, on stage. Many a time actors are on the ground, stunned. But there's a lot more to it than that. It opens your eyes, before the end, for a few seconds, minutes maybe.

Eight o'clock, tomorrow and Saturday. You have two more chances, and then it's gone. Four years pass quickly; don't miss out on what's here. It won't be back again next fall.

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