"Rogerandtom": A Comedic work of Metadrama

Penny and Roger

"Rogerandtom" is an engaging work of metadrama, raising a series of interesting questions about the role of theatre in theatre itself. Each of the three characters has a varying degree of understanding that the show is a performance. Penny (Corey Volovar) believes herself to be living out her life, unaware of the fact that she is in a play. William (Adam Gertler) is an actor who plays Richard, Penny's former love interest. The play is thrown into turmoil when the playwright's brother, Roger (Boston Stergis), storms onto the stage, purposefully breaking the suspension of disbelief for the audience and causing Penny serious mental anguish by walking through the imaginary walls of her apartment.

The play uses a comedic twist to challenge the conventions of theatre, amusing the audience by acknowledging that which one is usually asked to ignore, for example, other members of the audience and the door through which they entered. While "Rogerandtom" attempts to bridge the genres of comedy and drama, at points I was unsure of whether the melodrama is intentionally comedic or if I was supposed to empathize with the characters. However, this ambiguity seemed less the fault of the actors and more a flaw in the writing of the play. The play, while thought provoking, could easily have been taken to another level by more nuanced and less repetitive dialogue. Julien Schwab, the playwright, did an excellent job in writing the roles of Roger and William, whose engaging discussion prods the audience to think of theatrical conventions in a new way. Unfortunately, this discourse is entirely over Penny's head; her inability to grasp her own reality combined with her bouts of hysteria took away from the intellectual aspects of the play and created a character that could have been more thoroughly developed.

Roger and Tom

All three of the actors' performances were well acted. Most notable was Boston Stergis, playing the title role, whose interloping character effectively made the audience laugh while convincingly exploring his own role within the metadrama. His position as, first a member of the audience, then an actor in the play, unfolds as his own understanding widens with that of the audience. The role of William/Richard, acted graciously by Adam Gertler, played the omniscient ringleader, directing and coaxing understanding into the other two characters.

For me, the most intriguing and beautiful part of the play was the set, designed by Sean Mewshaw. Using the cozy space of the Tamarind Theatre, Mewshaw created a set that perfectly balances the play and effectively interacts with the players to create an ideal setting. Set in Penny's apartment, the floor plan is taped in white on the black floor. Partial walls of torn and broken plaster, complete with molding at the top, create partial room dividers from above. The broken plaster and stark color scheme, almost entirely black and white, are a beautiful symbol of the ideas within the play, that is, the deconstruction of the play itself. The clear delineation of the space in the apartment, combined with the deconstruction of the space into a theatre makes its own reinforcing statement of the nature of metadrama.

Comedic yet thought provoking, "rogerandtom" is an intriguing work of drama which challenges the audience to think inside the black box, rather than attempting to escape it. Its neo-modernist self reflection engages and entertains while deconstructing the boundaries of theatrical production.

"rogerandtom" starring Boston Stergis, Adam Gertler, and Corey Volovar, is playing for at the Tamarind Theatre, 5919 Franklin Ave. (West of Bronson), Hollywood, now through Sunday, July 18th. Performances run Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm and 7pm. Valet parking is optional. Admission is $15; students and seniors are $13. For reservations and information please call (310) 364-0766. Online ticketing is also available at www.TheaterMania.com.

 

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