'The Imaginary Invalid' provides hearty laughs, genuine emotions
“The Imaginary Invalid,” an adaptation of Molière’s 1673 comedy directed by Assistant Professor of Theater Abigail Killeen, opens with a concentrated shot of style. While the hypochondriac title character, played by Evan Horwitz ’15, sleeps in a wheelchair, the colorful world of this adaptation—assistant directed by Anna Morton ’15—swings to life around him as a chorus in mod outfits coos and prances around a jewel-tone set.
The protagonist, Argan, wakes up and lectures the audience on his long list of maladies. He trades barbed comments with his servant, Toinette (Marcella Jimenez ’16). For the few scenes it takes to establish their relationship, the Austin Powers look and rapid-fire wordplay don’t make sense together.
Then character after outlandish character arrives, a confused love story gets rolling and it’s clear that Killeen is going to throw a kitchen sink of commedia dell’arte shenanigans into the mix—with as much retro flair and comic libido as the International Man of Mystery himself could muster.
The show’s sheer over-the-top-ness is the work of an infectiously committed ensemble of screwball characters. David Reichert ’18 steals the show as Argan’s deadpan and (badly cross-dressed) daughter, Louison—that is, until Quincy Koster ’15 snatches it away in a fit of melodrama as his prurient, scheming wife. Trevor Murray ’16 absolutely runs away with it in the second act in a trio of bumbling roles as Argan’s doctor, pharmacist and in-law to be. He flounces around stage and bellows his pompous lines with a comic abandon that brings the house down.
Despite the carnival atmosphere, the plot moves forward much of the time through private conversations and strategy sessions that revolve around Argan and Toinette. Horwitz and Jimenez have so many jokes to run through, and so many knowing physical responses to make, that there were a few hitches in pacing in last night’s performance. But as the plot thickened, both fell into a back-and-forth rhythm that ended up being the most compelling part of the show.
With a script chockablock with puns and a stage often full of actors, each new gag tended to arrive just as the last wave of laughter was breaking. Osa Omoregie ’18, playing Cleante, received a welcome break from his usual onlooking at the edge of the stage to sing a bizarre and bluesy duet with Amanda Perkins ’18, who played his lover and Argan’s younger daughter, Angelique.
There was no shortage of slapstick, either. The best part of sophomore Isaac Merson’s performance as the duplicitous lawyer Monsieur de Bonnefoi was his dazed look as he fainted every time he lied, due to a rare condition.For all its gaiety, there is a serious undercurrent to the show that brings an emotional side to its otherwise silly depiction of human mortality. The actors pivot away from boisterous joking and manage to turn the tide of the audience’s feelings without sappiness. In a cloying touch, though, the chorus returns twice to hammer home the moral point by swirling around stage chanting life-affirming slogans.
In many ways, “The Imaginary Invalid” has its cake and eats it too. It’s intelligent, yet raucous. It cracks jokes about itself throughout, but still ends up authentically bittersweet. It’s not making any compromises, and it’s more fun for the variety.
Wild Oats debuts an additional location at Brunswick Landing
Wild Oats Bakery and Café, the popular downtown Brunswick eatery, opened a second location last week in the Brunswick Landing business district on the site of the former Naval Air Station Brunswick. The new cafe is serving a full range of breakfast and lunch items in the renovated space.
“The process was long and arduous,” owner Becky Shepherd said. “But worth the effort. It’s a beautiful space. It’s really peaceful out here with all the open space.”
Brunswick Landing is a commercial and industrial campus managed by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. It is currently home to a handful of manufacturing and technology companies, as well as Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) and multiple other schools.
“Lunch has been really busy,” said Shepherd. “Our clients are a really mixed bag: people from Harpswell, we’ve had people from SMCC, and we have schools on all sides of us. There’s a lot of industry around us too.”
Many people have already begun to enjoy spending time in the dining area of the new restaurant, which is located off of a connecting road between large office buildings.
“Every day has been better and better,” said server Kelly Remington. “I think the community itself is just coming over and welcoming us, which is nice.”
Nearby residents noted that Wild Oats is a welcome addition to existing food options in Brunswick Landing.
“We live on the base, so we’ve been waiting for this to open up,” said Angela Hughes of Brunswick. “Obviously we can go out to Cook’s Corner and find something there, but nothing as good as Wild Oats.”
According to Shepherd, Bowdoin students and staff have yet to venture to the new location in significant numbers.
She estimates that “a couple handfuls of people” from the College have stopped in so far, although Shepherd hopes that an expanded smoothie bar and a new line of fresh fruit juices will increase the new restaurant’s customer base.
“I actually haven’t been out there yet, but I plan to make a few appearances,” said Torey Lee ’15.
The original Tontine Mall location is already immensely popular with Bowdoin students. Admissions recommends it to visitors as the best place to get lunch in town. It will recieve its own improvement —additional seating outside—in the spring.
‘The Seagull’ rich with intensity under the direction of Fichtner ’14
“We need new forms,” cries Ben Cumings ’15 as the young and unsuccessful playwright Konstantin Treplev at the beginning of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull.” This weekend’s production, directed by Sam Fichtner ’14, makes the action itself a formal experiment that meditates on the broken selves of its characters on multiple scales.
The scene is a country house in late nineteenth-century Russia, where Treplev, his famous actress mother, family and friends gather for a revolving cycle of love triangles and empty aspirations. By turns narcissistic and communicative, the assembled talk through their frustrated attempts at self-actualization and romantic fulfilment with convincing desperation.
Fichtner writes in the playbill that he aims to register the full range of each character’s psyche. To that end, his staging keeps the entire cast onstage throughout the performance. Rather than leave for the wings, the actors migrate from the main sphere of action toward various cells of a large scaffold that fills the back of Wish Theater’s intimate black box.
This simple inversion richly densifies the drama in space and opens the content of the play up to a knowing dialogue with itself. The characters, who are all writers and playwrights and actors, already function ironically by worrying over their clichéd and maudlin creativity with outsized melodrama. Their existential crises are made all the more relative by circling each other silently, like bees in a hive.
The effect is mesmerizing in scenes where Quincy Koster ’15, as Treplev’s mother Irina Arkadina, holds court over an uneasily tittering dinner party while her son’s brooding and her lover’s infidelity haunt the scene from above and behind. When the foreground histrionics reach fever pitch, these other moving parts help the performance hold onto its subtlety.
The cast is skillful at holding the whole mess of jealous lovers and relatives in tension, both in the foreground and in the vignettes at the margins. The unrequited love of two women anchors much of the action: Shannon Grimes ’14 pouts solemnly and Kate Kearns ’14 is wonderfully blunt as the hard-drinking Masha. Joe Sise ’14, Denis Maguire ’15 and Peter Tracy ’14 play bumbling male figures who defuse many scenes with a great deal of welcome, if pitiful, humor.
Cumings, whose tragedy is the driving force of the action, broods and screams with his character’s depressive elasticity, often opposite Koster’s imperious, yet fragile, turn as Irina. The two explode at each other and then crumple with an intensity that sustains their subtextual actions in the background.
Senior Steve Strout is disarmingly confessional as Irina’s lover, the famous writer Trigorin, as he opens up to the aspiring actress Nina, played by Sarah Chalfie ’14. Chalfie performs the production’s most demanding scenes with dexterity, bubbling with her character’s hopeful naïveté at its beginning and her halting dispossession by its end.
There will only be a few tickets left at the door for tonight’s show, but it is worth waiting in line for them.
Talk of the Quad: Hooked by the books
A small college’s symbolic center has always been its library, but at Bowdoin, it doesn’t look like anything special. Hawthorne-Longfellow Library does its job without any of Hubbard’s gothic panache, and by now wears its fluorescence and bad textiles with a tired comfort.
The library instead comes alive through the fulfillment of elaborate routines—shelving, cataloguing and loaning its treasures to the rest of us. There isn’t much wonder that goes into the average swipe, beep and stamp of checking out a book, but to trace these patterns as they wind through the unthinkable breadth of the collection is a bit exhilarating.
I worked at the library over the summer of 2013, doing the ostensibly monotonous... I accepted bins of books from the UPS guy, rifled through them, and placed them on hold shelves.
Talk of the Quad: The Bowdoin mystique
I visited Bowdoin for the first time in February 2011 and stayed in one of the hotels at the desperate end of Pleasant Street, right off of Route 295. To the 17-year-old me who had grown up in a beach suburb of Los Angeles, the opposite corner of the nation was more naturally grim than I had expected. Its buildings seemed to abide the weather with an aged melancholy, as if past generations had fought nature and settled for a stalemate that still held. I remember standing in the deserted and windy stretch of restaurants near the College feeling like Brunswick was a literal ghost town.
When I arrived, I had no sense of what New England life was like in any season. I’m not sure I was even aware of Dunkin’ Donuts, let alone Tim Horton’s. My only frame of reference came from school. I was taking AP U.S. History and American Lit, and junior year academic overdrive shoved a heap of historical associations to the front of my mind. Didn’t James Bowdoin put down Shay’s Rebellion? I’d commit suicide too if I was Ethan Frome and I was this cold all the time. Just focus on the tour, geez.
The character that kept popping up was Nathaniel Hawthorne, Class of 1825, whose stories I had recently been reading. It was all so novel—I connected the towers, shadows and lamp-lit walks of the College with the eerie townscapes of his fiction. The dark outlines of the Pines gave off the same foreboding as the forest that swallowed up Goodman Brown, and the severity of colonial houses seemed to hide unknown evils behind closed doors.
Northern Lights: H-L staff members memorialize library’s fallen staplers
Frustrated with the tendency for their staplers to break and disappear, circulation desk staffers at Hawthorne-Longfellow Library have taken to naming each one and have erected a memorial sign to the fallen. “Sometimes you have students that try to staple 200 pages at once and the poor staplers can’t handle it,” said circulation staff member Chris Gravallese ’14. “We have a list of the ones that have served.” As soon as the library has to replace a stapler, anyone on staff can name the new one. Previous staplers, commemmorated on a paper “Roll of Honor” have borne literary monikers ranging from Harold James Potter to Babar.
Northern Lights: Reed building rink; Baxter sophomores wed; cataloguing oddities of the library collection
Taking advantage of the cold weather and abundant lawn space, members of Reed House began constructing an ice skating rink in the house’s backyard last weekend. Bernard Clevens ’15 of Cocoa Beach, Fla. and Christa Villari ’15 of Wayland, Mass., both 20, married under a Walmart-bought arbor in the lobby of Baxter House on Sunday evening. Many well-wishers looked on, including a full wedding party of House residents. Students living in Baxter celebrate the mock ceremony annually. The roles are chosen by House members.
Talk of the Quad: 21st Century Pop Nostalgia
The trailer for the recent concert film Big Easy Express—in which director Emmett Malloy follows a cross-country tour by popular folk-rock bands Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and Old Crow Medicine Show on a vintage train—opens with a brash monologue.
Orientation: Standing outside the law
As returning students may remember from a couple of stories in this paper and a series of emails sent out by Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols last spring, three Bowdoin students were given a criminal charge of forgery in connection with the use of fake I.D. cards in Brunswick. As one of those three students, I can say the situation blossomed quickly into much more stressful than a disciplinary headache.
Bowdoin Brief: Health Services changes free condom brand from ONE to Trojan
Bowdoin Health Services has switched the brand of its complimentary condoms from ONE to Trojan for the 2011-2012 academic year.