By Rebecca Zimmerman, Copy Editor
In “Book of Days” Dakota Adams played a dangerously charismatic preacher helping to turn his town into a controlled theocracy. In “Durang/Durang,” the Playhouse Theater’s latest comic offering, Adams plays just about everything else. Donning cherry-colored red heels, a nun’s habit, and high-waisted shorts, the versatile actor plays five unique brain-damaged characters in the first four acts before taking a poignantly realistic turn as a down-on-his-luck playwright forced to deal with the not-so-creative process of Hollywood script writing in the play’s final act. In doing so, Adams embodies the show’s greatest asset: its ability to teeter constantly between insane, screw-ball comedy and meditations on the meaning of theatre while showing off the incredible talent of everyone involved in the Furman Theatre department.
“Durang/Durang,” a collection of six one-act plays jokingly named after their creator, Christopher Durang, never strives to make its audience forget that they are at the theater. From its opening address featuring a fabulously frayed Elli Caterisano espousing the joys and pains of theatre (Who wants to watch Shakespeare when it’s long, hot, and expensive?) to its blatant and hilarious parodies of Tennessee Williams and Sam Shepard, “Durang/Durang” pokes fun at itself and every theatre convention it can come across. This satire reaches a high point at the end of the play’s third act as symbols and cymbals combine in a gut-splitting homage to how theatre is supposed to mean something, even if we cannot quite figure out what that is.
In Furman’s production, the entire Playhouse Theater takes on this giddy play with theatre, mislabeling the portrait of Christopher Durang in its lobby as an inside joke for audiences to enjoy after the play calls out another playwright in its first act and turning the scene changes between acts into one of the funniest parts of the play. The Move Out – The Way Moving Company, headed by Shift Designer and Director Bobbo Fuson, play their own ridiculous characters while setting the stage for the play’s other acts. To enjoy the Company at its fullest, do not leave the theater during intermission. The set-changing hijinks are worth spending ten extra minutes in your seat.
The production’s eight cast members, each playing at least three roles, make the oddball script come to life with such commitment and energy that it is hard to decide which of their performances deserves the most acclaim. Jess Pinaire brings strength to the otherwise understated character, Martha, in “Wanda’s Visit” while showing off her comedic chops as Ma in “A Stye of the Eye.” Sam Feigenbaum wowed audience members with his split-personality portrayal of Jake/Frankie in “A Stye of the Eye.” Meanwhile, Lizzie Dockery embodies Hollywood finesse and sleaze in her performance as Melissa Stearn in “Business Lunch at the Russian Tea Room.”
These cast members all make sure that the cascade of craziness that is “Durang/Durang” never stops the audience members from laughing at themselves or from appreciating the sheer talent that went into producing such a fast-paced, changeable production. Even if you are not a fan of theatre parodies, foul language, and horny priests and rabbis, you should see “Durang/Durang” to appreciate what the Furman theatre department can do.
Performances continue from Feb. 18 – 21. Call 864-294-2125 to reserve your tickets now.