This weekend, the Robert Sinclair Theatre will host a performance of the world's longest-running musical; "The Fantasticks," full of allusions that lean toward parody, casts classic works like "Romeo and Juliet," "Pyramus and Thisbe" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in an ironic postmodern light.
"The Fantasticks" is fresh and surprising with hilarious plot twists; The driving story is a forbidden love affair between main characters Luisa and Matt, which is actually the product of a reverse psychology trick planned by their bumbling and misguided straight-out-of-the-'60s fathers.
The fight scenes are especially enjoyable, as they are planned and staged by actors playing characters playing actors and feature over-dramatic deaths and satirized glory.
The play begins as a straight comedy, but grows darker after the intermission. Luisa and Matt's tragic flaws are revealed, and they undergo the suffering amplified by the chorus-like narration which asks: "Who understands why spring is born out of winter's laboring pain? Or why we all must die a bit before we grow again."
The audience experiences a catharsis in the second act during the spectacular number "Round and Round," which makes incredible use of the Black Box theater's layout and lighting technologies. Assistant director Natalie Mack '09 described it in one word: "trippy."
The venue helps to give the performance an intimate vibe and, aided by the actors' wonderful performances, allows for an engaging experience. The play itself has a poetic feel; each act opens with lyrical dialogue and poetry. The set is artistically minimalist, which allows the audience's imagination unrestricted access to the performance. Adornments like a cardboard moon and sun help to set the mood and make the theater, which beams with playful energy, feel like a production straight out of Greenwich Village.
Mortimer and Henry, two clowns, keep the audience laughing even after they leave the theater. Mortimer, played by sophomore Russell Allen, is an Englishman who dresses as an Indian and then as a pirate who prides himself on his ability to play dead. Henry, played by senior Jake Roa, is a decrepit Shakespearean actor who has seen better days. Both clowns add comic relief throughout and do an excellent job of keeping the show lighthearted.
Senior Michelle Geisler gives a memorable performance as the capricious and crazy teenage girl Luisa. She portrays the character beautifully by conveying emotional complexities and humor at the same time.
"The Fantasticks" is a must-see for its well-executed choreography, wonderful arrangements for the piano and harp, and of course great lyrics strengthened by solid vocals from the entire cast. "The Fantasticks" is running from Jan. 26 - 29 at 8 p.m. every night, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. The tickets are $8 for students and $10 for the general public.