Review: Sock 'N' Buskin's THE OUTSIDERS at Carleton University's Kailash Mital Theatre

Sock ‘N’ Buskin’s production of The Outsiders is as good as some professional shows I've seen and, at $20 a ticket, it's a bargain for an entertaining night out.

By: Feb. 11, 2024
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Review: Sock 'N' Buskin's THE OUTSIDERS at Carleton University's Kailash Mital Theatre
L-R: Jude Zappala, Michael Hart, Alaukwu Anozie, Emma Parrell, and
Acaisha Hurley in The Outsiders. Photo by Zane Labonté-Hagar.  

A production of The Outsiders is an ambitious undertaking for any theatre company, let alone for a student-run theatre company, such as Sock ‘N’ Buskin. The Outsiders is adapted from the 1967 novel by S.E. Hinton of the same name. Set in 1960s Oklahoma, two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socials, are at odds with one another. The gangs are differentiated by their members’ wealth and status; the Greasers come from poor socio-economic backgrounds, whereas the Socials have privileged upbringings. Out of boredom and spite, members of the Socials have taken to beating up Greasers for no apparent reason, to the point where it is no longer safe for a Greaser to walk alone at night. When 14-year old Greaser, Ponyboy Curtis (Michael Hart), is viciously attacked by two Socials, Bob (Dawson Fleming) and Randy (Maxim Ferron), his best friend, Johnny (Corey Newman) stabs one of the perpetrators, unintentionally killing him. With the help of their friend, Dallas (Zachary Miller), Ponyboy and Johnny go on the run, finding sanctuary in a church where they reflect on life, choices, and what truly matters.

The set (designed by Zane Labonté-Hagar and Alec Kyte) is minimalist, as expected in a production of this nature. Some props are cleverly used, such as two-sided signs to allow for quicker stage transformation. Some items could use tweaking; for example, the clock on the wall is frozen in time. This becomes funny when Ponyboy tries to sneak into the house late one night, and Darry incredulously asks him if he realizes that it’s 2:00 AM – as he is standing right next to the clock pronouncing the time as 1:14. If the clock’s front glass had been removed, its hands could have easily been rotated during scene changes, adding more veracity to the scenes. Likewise, there are many scenes in which characters are smoking, but the unlit cigarettes had less impact than a prop cigarette would have had (although, admittedly, budgets must be considered).

Review: Sock 'N' Buskin's THE OUTSIDERS at Carleton University's Kailash Mital Theatre
L-R: Jude Zappala, Philippe Doucet, and Alaukwu Anozie
in The Outsiders. Photo by Zane Labonté-Hagar.

The fight scenes were well done; as is often the case, the realism of the effect largely depends on one's view of the stage. Darry’s slap across Ponyboy’s face was perfectly executed from my angle (and the former’s instant regret was also perfectly portrayed), but some of the hits during the rumble scene were a bit off from my vantage point. Although lighting is extremely well utilized throughout the show, the blackouts are not quite dark enough, with light pollution in the background somewhat lessening the impact. However, spotlights are successfully used whenever a character breaks the fourth wall. This was coupled with a red light to effectively signify the effects of a fever and tormented thoughts overcoming Ponyboy near the end of the play.

Some of the actors seemed to have difficulty projecting their voices, which made dialogue difficult to hear at times. However, the entire cast gave strong performances, particularly Hart, Miller, Newman, Alaukwu Anozie (as Ponyboy’s brother, Darry), and Hayley Forbes (as Cherry). Credit must also be given to Smridhi Malhotra, the show’s director.

Review: Sock 'N' Buskin's THE OUTSIDERS at Carleton University's Kailash Mital Theatre
Hayley Forbes as Cherry in The Outsiders.
Photo by Zane Labonté-Hagar.

In The Outsiders, the cast is often tasked with silently conveying their characters’ emotions using only body language and this was repeatedly accomplished effectively. Of special note is Anozie demonstrating Darry’s love for Ponyboy, despite his hardened demeanour. Similarly, when Sodapop (Jude Zappala) receives some bad news, he gives his head a slight shake and then quietly leaves the room to mask his heartbreak. These small details make the characters feel real and ensure the audience is invested in their outcomes. Miller was spectacular in their final scene, communicating Dallas’ anguish, hurt, and desperation all culminating in a devastating outcome.

Sock ‘N’ Buskin’s production of The Outsiders is as good as some professional shows I have seen and, at $20 a ticket ($15 for students and seniors), this is a true bargain for an entertaining night out. The Outsiders is in performances through February 11th at Carleton University’s Kailash Mital Theatre. Click the button below to purchase tickets and click here for more information about upcoming shows in Sock ‘N’ Buskin’s 80th anniversary season.




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