Diary of a primate: Gorilla an unusual story of entrapment

This past Friday, Feb. 22, the student theatrical production of Gorilla was performed in the Black Box Theatre in Brodie Hall. Written and directed by sophomores Jack Frederick and John Gasper, the play centers around the life of a gorilla named Teddy (senior Gavin Price) who interacts with the strange and unique characters that come into his life, from zookeepers to feuding lovers to schizophrenics and even murderers.

As Frederick and Gasper put it on the cover of Gorilla's playbill, '[This is] a play about countless fish trapped in tiny baggies just dying to get out,' and the symbolic truth of this description is undeniable; the characters are indeed trapped beings trying to break from the barriers of their lone existences to find deeper connections with something outside of themselves.

Gorilla began with a brief slide show depicting the circumstances of Teddy's birth as an orphan gorilla. The four acts that followed then took the audience from Teddy's cage at the zoo to an incident at an employee lounge there to the dark city streets and finally to a character's living room 15 years later. The play's style was a combination of naturalism and modernism; it possessed a clear plot line and realistic characters, but at the same time made occasional use of irrational dialogue and almost surreal situations. The show was likewise a mixture of tragedy and comedy. Though much of it was lighthearted and even hilarious, its end proved disconcerting if not morbid, making the audience puzzle over the sudden and sad fate of Teddy.

Price did a superb job of portraying the gorilla; his full-length costume, realistic gestures, and life-like facial expressions all contributed to the accuracy and entertaining quality of his character. Other memorable actors included senior Anastasia Stumpf as the Crazy Woman who, during the first act, ran through the zoo where Teddy was being held, screaming hysterically and evading the baffled guards. Likewise, Gasper's rendition of the schizophrenic hobo, Connor, and sophomore Nick Ponterio's portrayal of his "other half," Franklin, made for a very interesting overall picture of human psychology and desperation at its extremes.

In short, though, some of the actions in the play were too symbolic or too irrational to fully understand without more than one viewing, and though the ending was noticeably abrupt, Frederick and Gasper have definitely created a worthwhile and entertaining play with Gorilla.