"Case Reopened" illustrates murder mystery with metaphor

Junior Jennie Conway unraveled the moral of “Case Reopened,” the Veg S.O.U.P. play she wrote and directed, in one sentence. “It’s not good to be on your own, and it’s always good to ask for help from family and friends,” she said.

Conway’s play, originally written as a nine-page script for the English Department Creative Writing Contest in the spring, tells of a successful female crime novel writer named Emma Fields, played by senior Alicia Frame, who fights to let people into her life as she continues to struggle with the murder of her father from 15 years before, played by senior Brandon Rumaker.

Conway’s protagonist, an introverted character, feels most comfortable talking to the fictional star of her detective novels Lizzie Gordon, played by sophomore Paige Gordon. Lizzie Gordon helps Fields express herself, but she is invisible to everyone but Fields.

“This is the first time I’ve played a character that is not seen by everyone,” Paige Gordon said.

Just as Lizzie Gordon represents a part of Fields’ subconscious, the set itself is a reflection of her inner mind. The most impressive and exciting part of the show is Conway’s use of the stage.

The entire play is set in Fields’ apartment with props appropriately placed; at points, the lighting changes, refocusing on a red blood spot painted on the floor. It represents flashbacks that Fields experiences throughout the show, all of them acted out on the blood spot. The audience sees her younger self, played by freshman Olivia Knowlden, before her father’s death and after as she starts her writing career.

Conway manipulates the intimate Robert E. Sinclair Black Box Theatre to her advantage by using props in the foreground to set different scenes and returns to the apartment by readjusting the light and reviving Fields and Lizzie Gordon, who sit quietly and watch the events play out in Fields’ mind.

The entire stage works as a metaphor for Fields’ mind as she continues to push people out of her apartment and thus out of her thoughts. The flashbacks on the blood spot give the audience a visual connection between Fields’ memories and the struggle she faces to overcome her father’s murder.

“I like this [stage] a lot; you get to play with angles more,” senior Mike Kedenburg said. He plays Daniel, Fields’ flickering love interest.

As much as the play is about coping with and uncovering the mystery of her father’s murderer, the audience sees Frame’s character grow in a believable way that makes Conway’s writing memorable and admirable.

“Case Reopened” will run from Thursday Nov. 21 to Saturday Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Robert E. Sinclair Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $5.