This weekend’s Dramadan features three one-act plays that jump from funny to tragic to surreal back to funny ? several times in the space of an hour and a half.

Senior John Zimmerman’s “One Man and Another” is an intense, intelligent monologue by a shrewd but self-deluded homeless man. It asks what homeless people owe to society, and what society owes them. Zimmerman’s scattered, Salinger-esque narrative style sounds like it could almost be a short story.

The writing includes gems like, “Beethoven was afraid of sound. His fear was so acute he became deaf. I’m afraid of silence. I haven’t talked for five months.”

Zimmerman says he didn’t write the monologue with a specific message.

“He’s talking to whoever the audience wants, and maybe to whoever he wants,” he said. “The title can be taken in so many ways. It could be one man talking to another, or it could be implying equality between two men regardless of their standing.”

Junior Elliot Smith’s “?Or Forever Hold Your Peace” is a wonderfully witty play about a man suffering a crisis of confidence before his wedding. Evan (sophomore Adam Litz) talks to an imaginary friend (freshman George Bruhn), who threatens to kill himself and drinks an amazing quantity of Miller High Life.

Evan is a man confounded by life. He tries to enact changes but can’t stop dwelling on the past. He fights to make the best choices but still ends up unhappy. “Nobody knows what they’re supposed to do ? it’s a best guess from moment to moment,” he says.

Smith’s one-act is punctuated by clever wordplay and hilarious pop culture references. The only weak point is that most of it takes place as a screaming match, which leaves the tension level with nowhere to go.

“I wanted to write about a difficult human dilemma that a philosopher might write about,” Smith said. “But since I’m stupid and not a philosopher, I can deal with it in an absurd way.”

Sophomore Matt Rodano directs Christopher Durang’s “The Actor’s Nightmare,” a postmodern-ish one-act about an accountant forced to act in a bizarre play to which he doesn’t know the lines.

George, played hilariously by junior Yusuke Shimizu, finds himself playing Hamlet, a torn lover and Sir Thomas More. He flounders in desperation, reciting a cornucopia of Shakespeare bits, the Pledge of Allegiance and the ABCs.

“It’s really not about the actor,” Rodano said. “It’s a Twilight Zone-sort of dream in the mind of this accountant.”

This play reminded me a lot of the dream where you’re standing naked in front of a crowd of people. Or the dream where it’s 7 a.m. on Thursday and the newspaper still isn’t done. (Oh wait. Was that a dream?)

Between Smith’s play and Rodano’s, about 15 cigarettes are lit. Don’t go to Dramadan if you have respiratory problems.

All three plays are relatively devoid of dead spaces ? the elusive flaw that kills most student theater productions. They move along at a rapid clip with polished transitions and few stumbles. The plays are well-written, skillfully acted and worth an hour and a half of your night.

Dramadan takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Drama House.

Le can be reached at

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