It was an English night in an English home with an English couple-theme that was the setting and spirit of the play The Bald Soprano. Throughout the week the University Theatre put on this play, which was held in the J. Peter Adler Studio Stage to make the environment and relationship with the audience even more intimate. The Bald Soprano was written in French by Eugene Ionesco. The first showing of the play was in 1950. West Chester University’s Theatre group performed the English- translation of this play while keeping the essence of the characters and storyline.
The play opens with a firefighter dancing around to technoinduced music/sounds with two other dancers dressed as a woman and a man. The dance could be referred to as an abstract number with creativity flowing throughout it. The “characters” seemed to be objects held in a different world who find they can leave this “world” and explore what lies beyond. However, after doing so, they decide to re-enter their “world.” All of this was interpreted through dance, which adds a unique twist to the play. It was the only dance number in the play, providing a strong opening. The next scene was our host (Michael Rothermel) introducing the scene – the “English” night in an “English” home. We then see Mr. Smith (Matthew Gagat) and Mrs. Smith (Alicia J. Kelly), his wife.
These characters come to life when our host lifts the white sheets that cover their bodies off of them. We are then introduced to Mary the maid (Nicolette M. Addice), a quirky character who serves at times as the comic relief with her sneaky moves. Then we met Mr. and Mrs. Martin. Mrs. Martin (Erica Imparato) and Mr. Martin (Stephen Blahut) are the Smith’s guests for the evening.
Their relationship also provided a bit of comic relief. When they first enter the room they deliver their “curious” speech because they don’t know where they have met before. For the audience this scene was comical yet intriguing. Viewers know they are married yet it is fun to watch, especially after it patches out in the end.
The last character we meet is the infamous story teller, the Fire Chief (Michael Saba). Mary and the Fire Chief have a bit of a love affair as well, which is another element that adds to the makeup of the play. The actors seemed to really study their characters, they made it easy for the audience to get a good understanding of who they were and what they were like.
For example, Mrs. Smith was the type of woman who stood up to her husband and fought for what she thought was correct. She demanded the attention be directed wherever she pleased.
To capture this and deliver it to the audience, Kelly did a lot of yelling and demanding, yet kept the character sweet and inviting. With not knowing anything on this storyline before seeing it, I felt the message was delivered and it was a great show to see. The setting was simple, the plot was twisted yet abstract with mature writing, and the actors/actresses did a wonderful job portraying their characters.
If you are interested in learning more about this season’s schedule, please contact the Department of Theatre and Dance Office at 610- 436-3463 for information.