Past and present TOOP members combine emotion and energy in show

Photo courtesy of Parsa Lofti, Staff Photographer

Though The Opposite Of People (TOOP) has only been around for a few years, the full house at its Third Annual Alumni Show this weekend proved that it already has a very loyal following. Hosted on Saturday, Oct. 13 as part of Meliora Weekend, the event showcased a selection of student-written one-act plays.

Drama House was converted into a mini-theater for the occasion, creating a friendly environment in which friends, parents and students could gather. With a mixture of funny, moving, and high-energy pieces, this performance featured both alumni and current TOOP members at their best.

The show opened with “The Joy of Watercolor Painting,” a comic and poignant commentary on aging. Written by freshman Steven Winkelman and sophomore Nathan Damon, the play features a widow, Ingrid, (played by freshman Melanie Spall) suffering from the delusions of old age. As the play progresses, the host of a television art show (freshman Charlie Edwards) becomes increasingly real to her, perhaps even more so than the people she once used to know. The piece closes on a bittersweet note as Ingrid is led offstage by her caretaker to take her next round of medications.

“Rush Hour,” a monologue written by sophomore Katherine Varga, is set in a car gridlocked in traffic on the highway. The agitated driver (played by senior Peter Carlile) uses modern anger management techniques to curb his rising frustration, but to no avail. His sheer powerlessness, victimization and anguish came across with remarkable intensity, offering a thought-provoking reflection on how we deal — or fail to deal — with things utterly outside of our control.

The next item on the program was senior May Zhee Lim’s “Michael,” a creative and witty scene which traces a paralegal’s funny, vengeful plot to get his high-maintenance colleague fired. The colleague, played by Winkelman, comes into work to find his deskmate Michael transformed into a witty, seductive female version of his former self (played by senior Annalise Baird). Unable to accept this unexpected change of identity, the colleague panics and runs offstage. Following his flight, Michael pops out of the closet, phones his boss to inform him of his colleague’s odd behavior and slaps some cash into the impersonator’s hand.

Evelyn Hernandez’s intense, personal “Reverie” invited the audience into a couple’s complex mixture of moods. Austin (played by Mike Jancsy ’10) both grieves the recent suicide of his girlfriend and frees himself to pursue a new love interest (played by freshman Halle Burns). Guilt and fear, attraction and repulsion mingle in this difficult but insightful scene.

“New Hampster,” written and acted by James Eles ’11, and Doug Zeppenfeld ’11,  parodies the lives of conservative political pundits. In the process of searching for effective campaign emblems, the bloggers resort first to a hamster, and then to a snake. Eles’ and Zependfeld’s madcap satire hit home for the audience, who roared with laughter.

Senior Sarah Young’s imaginative “Date” featured an all-too-realistic monologue: a solo actress (played by sophomore Evelyn Hernandez) finds herself out to dinner with a totally unresponsive date. His excuse, ostensibly, is that he’s busy chewing a huge piece of raw fish. Faced with this silent dinner partner, the actress nervously tries to shoulder the entire conversation on her own, much to the audience’s mirth.

The funny and cringe-worthy escapades of the final play (“Hotline,” by senior Kelsey Burritt and sophomore Devin Goodman) were unabashedly acted by freshman Danny Mensel and senior Erini Lambrides.

In a comic mixup, a suicidal young man mistakenly dials a phone-sex service in lieu of a crisis hotline. The woman on the other end misinterprets which “edge” he’s talking about (actually, he refers to the edge of a skyscraper). Much to the audience’s chagrin, the coy ending of the play reveals that the two are actually a couple trying to spice things up.

All in all, the show was a success. Intelligent, whimsical and funny, TOOP is always sure to impress.

Winstein-Hibbs is a member of the class of 2013.



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