Bang! Five gunshots ring out. Five bodies drop to the floor. ‘Dead! Dead! Dead! Dead! Dead!” five screams wail. The agonizing screams cease and are replaced by voices whispering inside your head, taunting and vengeful. ‘For the rest of your life you’ll have us in your head,” they tell you. ‘And you’ll see us over and over. Again and again.”

This scene is from the tormented mind of Josh, the main character in the play ‘Bang, Bang, You’re Dead,” hosted by The Opposite of People (TOOP) theatre group at the Drama House on Friday, Nov. 21 and Saturday, Nov. 22. TOOP preformed two plays.

‘The Author’s Voice” was first, directed by sophomore John Amir-Fazli. It was quickly followed by ‘Bang, Bang, You’re Dead,” directed by sophomore Doug Zeppenfeld. Combined, the shows were approximately an hour and 20 minutes long.

Formed in the fall semester last year, TOOP describes itself as a group for ‘students who simply couldn’t get enough theater.” Funding and organization is carried out by the student actors themselves.

Amir-Fazli lamented that he had personally spent $60 for ‘The Author’s Voice.” Costs for ‘Bang, Bang, You’re Dead” have run up over $120. The shows were free for admittance, but TOOP hopes to recoup its money by charging an admissions fee for future shows. The group is not Students’ Association recognized or SA funded yet because it is exclusive and holds auditions.

Already, the members of TOOP have formed a deep connection and all act with team effort, according to member and sophomore James Eles.

Sophomore Holly Redman, who did not act in the plays, commented that ‘knowing [the actors] personally, they really transformed themselves for their roles.” She called their acting skills impressive for such a young group.

With slow pacing at the onset, ‘The Author’s Voice” crescendos into a wonderfully twisted finale. It follows the travails of a fame-seeking and fraudulent fiction author, Todd, who was played by freshman Adam Lanman.

The real source of inspiration for Todd’s writing comes from Gene, played by junior Po Echguren, a misshapen gremlin-like recluse with horrible body odor. Gene has long harbored a secret disgust for Todd, who forbids her from leaving his apartment.

Todd’s editor, the stunning Portia, who was played by sophomore Sam Levine, lusts for Todd. ‘Aren’t you attracted to me?” she often asks. To which the tepid Todd shyly replies, ‘My libido wavers.”

Nearing the end of the play, Gene presents her novel for Todd to publish under his name. As the rave reviews come pouring in, Gene reveals to Todd that she had copied the entirety of his book from another author’s novel. Crushed, Todd awaits to be charged with plagiarism as the lights fade to black.

‘Bang, Bang, You’re Dead,” written just one week before the Columbine school shootings, vividly details the turmoils of Josh, a high school student played brilliantly by sophomore Jonathan Grima, who coldly and brutally murders his parents and fellow students. Josh is a kid who had everything going for him, but his happiness is short lived.

Betrayed by his girlfriend and best friend, angry with his parents and mocked and embarrassed by his peers, his life soon transforms into a swirling vortex of clouded thoughts and destructive actions.

With his world crashing down on him, Josh decides first to kill his parents and then his fellow students at his high school. Out of rage, he kills his father. With regret, he kills his mother. ‘I love you mom,” he says as he shoots her.

Forever anon, Josh is tormented by the spectres of those he kills. They rattle him and shake him until he feels the deepest sense of loss and despair from his actions. Ghastly spectres of the dead rise from their twisted prostrations, surreal and smooth. ‘Dead! Dead!” they shriek.

In ever increasing hysteria, their voices and cries beg, ‘Why me?” ‘I had my whole life in front of me,” one student opined. To which Josh replies, ‘So did I.”

Imprisoned, it is only at the end that Josh understands that by his actions, he has destroyed himself and all he could have been. Staring at his fate in his cell, Josh exclaims ‘I’ve killed all my possibilities.” His prison cell would be ‘the rest of his life.”

Performed just one day after a gun scare at a public high school in Rochester, Grima described the play as having a powerful message.

Audience member Jordan Witte said, ‘The most provocative moment was when Grima had the gun pointed at his dad. It was disturbing, moving, and emotional.” As his father pleads with Josh to drop his gun, Josh’s deadly intent wavers.

The TOOP actors had spent many weeks rehearsing, and their diligence showed. Throughout ‘Bang, Bang, You’re Dead,” Zeppenfeld lurks in the shadows, staring on as his masterpiece unfolded.

It is amazing that these nonprofessional actors are so utterly convincing in their portrayals of their characters. Their roles were well-crafted and their emotions real. TOOP will host more plays come spring semester.

Otis is a member of the class of 2011.



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