For the average college student, their future life could take any direction. The problem is finding this direction before they are in their early thirties and no closer to knowing what their future holds. This is precisely the quandary dealt during the studio production of “Savage in Limbo” performed last Friday and Saturday.
Directed by freshman Anna Munzesheimer and written by John Patrick Shanley, the show was set in a bar where all those hanging out were in their early thirties. The strong characters quickly took shape as the bartender, played by freshman Ben Lee, and a drunk patron, played by sophomore Brittany Amendolia, quietly conversed until another woman, played by junior Aubrey Cunat, came in to shake things up. She was ready to take action and to make things happen beyond her everyday life with her mother. With a drink in one hand and a deck of cards in the other, she was ready to go.
Before too long, an old friend played by senior Maren Reisch entered the bar upset by the fact that her boyfriend broke up with her to date “ugly girls.” The two women became momentary friends before the boyfriend entered, played by freshman Isaac Miller. At that point, both girls begin vying for the man’s attention and he is torn between which woman, if either, he should go with. In the background, Lee and Amendolia’s characters stick together, only rarely breaking into the action center stage but always visibly in the bar.
By the time the show ended, there had been countless marriage proposals, secret pregnancies, and family weaknesses revealed between the characters, which heightened the tension onstage. At different points in the show, each character expressed their individual insecurities about being in their early thirties and still feeling like they did not know where they wanted their life to go. Cunat’s character constantly talked about taking control of life, about fate, and about reading the future in her cards. By presenting these different philosophies about life, the characters were forced to grapple with who they were and who they wanted to be.
At times, the script seemed too heavy-handed in directing the audience to consider how their future is decided, but ultimately the actors made each character their own. Miller and Reisch played quarreling lovers beautifully, raising and then cooling the tension between them and using their actions to fill the stage area. Their characters’ insecurities and affection were genuinely displayed as the audience learned to care for them. At first their situation was comical but then turned serious and eventually ended in tenderness.
Cunat also played her part as the formerly-quiet-but-ready-to-take-action character wonderfully, culminating with her powerful monologue at the end where she admits how lonely she really is. A dramatic moment indeed, but not overplayed, which can be hard to do.
Finally, Lee and Amendolia’s characters remained concrete for the entire show. Lee’s dry humor was spot-on, breaking serious moments and his character’s serious demeanor. He showed both apathy and compassion for the appropriate characters which made him endearing. Amendolia sustained her drunken character throughout the show, an impressive feat indeed, and found the appropriate amount of playfulness and seriousness in her character’s role. Even when the action was not focused on these two, they were still entertaining to watch.
The show was well-done and thoroughly enjoyable; another testament to the quality of Knox’s theater department.