Todd International Theatre Program?s latest play, ?The Grapes of Wrath,? did justice to Steinbeck?s classic American novel.
The novel is long and, though beautifully done, sometimes quite boring ? the play energetically dramatized the best and most important parts of it.
?It?s a riveting performance,? said freshman Tom Marples. ?I enjoyed it thoroughly.?
Senior Anthony Bagnetto played Tom Joad, the main character, well and enthusiastically, but he seemed a bit too gentle. Bagnetto nicely revealed the intelligent qualities of Tom, but lacked the sternness that his character ought to have exhibited.
Sophomore Kali Quinn played Ma flawlessly. She morphed completely into the character. Her voice produced a deep, dignified strength ? the exact strength that Ma has throughout the entire novel.
The acting was impressive enough to make the fact that the Joad family was interracial barely noticeable. Such instances of color blindness should occur more often.
Sophomore Ilya Khabinsky brought the character of Jim Casey to life. He contained the perfect amount of thoughtful meditation and rebellion for the former reverend. Somehow he managed to look the part as well ? a tall and lanky outcast ? which always adds to the capacity of believability.
The barber shop quartet composed of car salesmen was a highly enjoyable and entertaining musical interlude.
However, the pre-recorded songs weren?t too impressive, however. Although the lyrics brought up some interesting details mentioned in the book, such as the importance of Highway 66, the music itself was usually of poor quality. It was not only boring, but bad.
The stage and atmosphere were perfect. The dusty smell of the ?30s seemed to be in the air, and the plain wood scenery showed the simplicity of living conditions that the characters suffered through.
The stage floor?s wood was propped up, taken down and rearranged by the cast for the different scenes, seemingly by magic. This worked magnificently ? there was even a large pool of water that represented the river that the characters jumped into from time to time.
?The technical aspects are excellent,? said Take Five Scholar Matt Randy. ?I was especially impressed with the stage, and its use of the panels and holes as both positive and negative space.?
The end of Steinbeck?s novel is the most sickeningly powerful end of a book ever ? the character of Rose of Sharon feeds to a starving stranger the breast milk that was meant for her dead baby.
Sophomore Amanda Goff enacted this mysteriously perverse scene both sympathetically and maturely. The nudity was a positive addition to the play, and let the awesome shock of reality enter the fake world of the stage.
?Todd Union Theater never fails to shock me,? said junior Matt Blenner. ?I thought it was very good, very dramatic.?
Todd Union Theater?s production of Grapes of Wrath was a beautiful, artistic endeavor.
It brilliantly showed the strength and depth of Steinbeck?s characters and achieved its goals by taking the audience to the time of the tragic Dust Bowl. This play brought the Depression era classic to life.