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Review: Museum

The fall play presents a hilariously unexpected side to museums

Penelope Grapsas, Staff Writer

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Similarly to other Berkeley productions, every seat in the house was occupied. However, this time, these seats were scattered along the stage and surrounded an elaborate art exhibit with white floors, pedestals and elaborate modern art. The seats embraced a new exciting world of the unique play: Museum.

The Advanced Theatre Ensemble’s fall production, Museum by Tina Howe, took people-watching to a new and ridiculously comical level. ATE and the Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA) outdid themselves by ensuring that the audience would be able to intimately experience a whirlwind of a day in an art exhibit. The audience watched the show from within the exhibit and found their seats through a hallway that led to the stage. Before the show, the audience was encouraged to mill about the multitude of art pieces such as sculptures of bones and grime, blank canvases and even a wacky clothesline complete with hanging mannequins dressed in a variety of clothes. Chris Marshall, Berkeley’s Upper Division Theater Director and the director of this production, planned this bold staging choice last Spring with the help of Chris Cook, the Performance Facilities Manager and Production Technical Director. Cook guided the construction of the elaborate set. The lack of microphones for the actors was a touch that made the show an even more realistic window into the lives of these characters.

The show began with the entrance of a security guard, played by Jack Touchton ’19, and followed his day as wacky and unique museumgoers drift in and out, each presenting their own quirks and personalities. Each student plays multiple characters in this play, alluding to multiple quick-changes, an abundance of lines and absurd character choices. Marshall considered this when selecting this play and said that “most [students] play more than one character, so there’s a kind of SNL quality to the show– it’s all about character and comedy.”

The actors did a remarkable job building each and every one of their characters, an incredible feat considering that the audience would observe actors portray different characters just seconds apart. Some character highlights include a French couple played by Nick Alexander ’20 and Sofia Leche ’20 who bonded and argued together over the bizarre artwork in what seemed like perfect French. Following their scene, a group of three teenage girls, portrayed by Kaleigh White ’19, Rajshree Chettiyar ’19, and Taylor Hooker ’19 exclaimed their brilliant idea of creating their own museum that solely featured windows. Michael Wax ’19 brought to life an angsty teenage character who would immaturely go around licking artifacts and meddling with the artwork while Derek Sokol ’20 and Anna Ames ’19 portrayed an elderly couple with deafeningly frustrating issues with their audio guide tour. Leana Fraifer ’20 donned the flamboyant character Tink, a young woman with a crazed obsession for a certain secret held by one of the bone sculptures. These bizarre characters were few of many that brought to life what this play was trying to portray; the stereotypical types of people that enter an art museum. To the comical extreme, this play displays the various reactions a modern art exhibit may elicit. Museum reflected the many facets of personal emotion and comprehension. At the end of the day, art is really just a reflection of personality, no matter how kooky or crazy.

Overall, the Advanced Theatre Ensemble and VAPA outdid themselves in capturing the essence of Museum and brought it to life for all of those fortunate enough to experience it. Bravo, and Show Bucs!

Mary Ebert
LEFT OUT TO DRY: Before the show began, audience members of Museum were encouraged to walk around and inspect the pieces of art.

Mary Ebert
WHO TO WATCH: Museum is staged with multiple actors that depict various storylines at the same time, forcing the audience to decide where their attention belongs.

Mary Ebert
STUDENT PIECES ON SET: Various pieces featured on the set of Museum were created by members of Berkeley’s Advanced Art class, including Maureen Tanner ’19, Asher Behar ’19, Alexandra Politowicz ’20, Jacqueline Hennecke ’20, Ornella Pigeon ’19.

Mary Ebert
TALENTED CAST: Jack Touchton ’19, who played the role of “The Guard”, performed a brief dance interlude, in which he flossed for over a minute. The dance was choreographed by ATE’s Kennedy Perry ’20.

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