When is creation truly done? It takes time to make something, but then there comes a point where it’s “finished” and time to present it as a whole, right? Senior Alyssa Gill’s “The Devil is Bored” made me think a lot about the creative process and when something is truly “done.” Gill’s show didn’t feel completely finished to me, but I found that in watching and attending the post-show Q&A that the level of finality wasn’t important. What matters is how much the show makes you think.
The collective brainchild of Gill, freshman Emma Lister and sophomores Katie Greve, Holden Meier, Rosie Castle and Morgan Jellison, “The Devil Is Bored” is something the cast admits they only half understand themselves. The point, according to Gill and her devising team, was to explore definitions of evil and the implications of those definitions. Loaded questions, indeed. Over four months they turned these questions into a script.
Their premise? The devil is bored with hell and throws a house party: inviting the sinful and even the Queen of Death herself. They swap stories about the nature of evil (all claiming to know what “evil” truly is).
What came out of my own viewing on Saturday were more questions than answers about the nature of evil. I’m still preoccupied with mulling it over. I want to see it again.
Closing night has come and gone. but I would urge Gill and her cast to keep what they’ve created and build on it. Since the show was heavily audience-immersive, it’s only fitting that the audience’s reaction to it should be considered. How did it feel to have an invitation to hell signed by Satan land in your lap out of the sky? How did you feel when the boisterous humor made you laugh at death and evil acts? Loving the “college douchebag” who commits sexual assault is supposed to be wrong, but why were we made to fall in love with his character beforehand? When Eve begged you for release from her chain did you feel compelled to help? One audience member even tried to help her, which we learned in the Q&A was not planned. I wanted to help stop a suicidal character from harming himself. I felt simultaneously helpless and responsible. The audience experience in “The Devil is Bored” is heavy, as the devisees intended.
The heaviness is all a part of the intent, as I learned in perusing Director’s Notes by Gill and staying for the post-show discussion. It is my sincere hope that more comes from this play, because we really do need to consider the questions Gill, her cast and crew instigated with this show.
Some things could perhaps be improved upon. For instance, most transitions between scenes were too darn long and sometimes detracted from dramatic effect. Six actors each playing five or so characters explains it, but at the same time, “The Devil is Bored” provides us with the very tools to remedy this challenge. Voice recordings, video recordings and silhouette scenes all came into play at one point or another. These would have been the perfect tools to move from one scene to another because they do not necessitate the actors in the next scene acting. Just a thought. There were also a few points where plot seemed to need more explanation. If I hadn’t attended the Q&A, for example, I wouldn’t have gotten that a character I thought was minor was actually a major character. There was a lot of really compelling symbolism in the actions, lines, props, set design and costuming. However, there were a couple instances where I knew something was supposed to be symbolic but couldn’t really tell how. My humbly offered advice is to consider these discrepancies between intent and message to give the utmost effect to the audience.
I would say that overall anything which felt amiss in the production could be chalked up to what I said earlier about the creative process. I don’t think “The Devil is Bored” should fade into the past. Instead, I think it’s a great work in the making and I would love to see it again — revised or not — if that were ever possible.