BWW Review: LIKE WATCHMEN World Premiere at Bethel College
The story structure itself is simple - three women sit around and talk to each other about their pasts, their secrets, and their worries while they wait for an inevitable horrific event. How the play tries to set itself apart is through the main issue that the women face and what is relayed throughout the story - what do you do when you can't do anything at all? How are the women going to cope with the fact that the men they love and are waiting for might die out on the lake and there isn't much that they can do about it? While the subject matter is dramatic and dark, a lot of the issues and conflict found on stage are all too familiar and feel re-hashed, just in a new setting. There was also a lack of natural flow to the dialogue and rhythm of the show; a lot of philosophizing seemed to come out of nowhere at times. The language of the show also seemed to be all over the place; there was a disconnection between the older and more modern vocabulary used. One woman also had a very austere accent that didn't coincide with any of the other actress and it awkwardly set her apart during their performances. However, the most disappointing part of the play was the anti-climactic reveal between two characters that had been feuding. The build-up to a big reveal and the tense relationship the two characters shared, as well as the passive aggressive nature of their interactions, had me believing that something utterly devastating or scandalous had happened between the two characters. In reality, one character just resented the other for moving away when they were younger. The reveal did not do the escalation justice; the stakes just weren't high enough to satiate the desire to know more.
While the story didn't feel entirely brand-new or creative, there was obvious hard work put into creating the production. The set design created the perfect backdrop for the drama to unfold; a simple wooden church with wooden desks and pews with the only embellishment being a biblical staiNed Glass window. While it appeared simple, it was extremely well done. The sparse dark stage not only reflected the solemn mood of the women and the story, but allowed for no distractions to take away from the high intensity dialogue taking place on stage - the women and their words were the focus. The men in the show were also the most well-written. Even though they were only on stage for a little while, the characters were personable, unique in their personalities, and interesting; they had layers, even if they only existed for a short while. The author also used flashbacks throughout the play, which was a great touch since it broke up the rhythm of the dialogue-heavy show - in a good way. It was an ingenious way of meeting the men that the women were so focused on, and actually helped develop the audience's feelings for both the men and the women - if we like and care for the men as the women do, we feel more for the plight of the women and also worry about the fate of the men. There were also some stellar performances from three talented actors: Kelli Grosse as Sabrina Noble, Wesley Lantz as Henry Smith, Benjamin Noble, and Myron Lumber, as well as James Adcock as Daniel Smith. Grosse was natural and subtle in her role as Sabrina - she seemed genuine as a sweet and docile character who can occasionally be pushed over the edge. Lantz played three characters throughout the night (the sailors out at sea), and easily switched between the three roles, successfully giving each character distinct personalities, traits, and mannerisms. It was easy to care for the men with Lantz's interpretation of them, because even though he only played them for short periods of time, the men he played felt like real people. Adcock probably had the smallest amount of stage time, but he was one of the most memorable. Playing the son of one of the main characters, Adcock's character also felt very real and sincere in his portrayal; nothing felt forced or awkward. He played the delicacies and the small moments of his time on stage seamlessly as well as the more dramatic and complex. For Lantz and Adcock, it takes a high amount of aptitude to make your performances so memorable when you only perform for a few moments.
While Like Watchmen has already closed, be sure to be on the lookout for more work from Kayla Rundquist. The play showed real promise, and Rundquist is only starting the beginning of her career.
Graphic Credit: Rafael Rivera
Photo Credit: Alex Price