|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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The curtain rises on God
God and An Actor's Nightmare
Starring: Ensemble Cast
Directed By: Lisa Cherns, Eliana Busheikin
By Ben Freedman
The Jewish Students' Union's latest endeavour attracted more than its share of negative attention, as protesters of Israel Day descended on the University Community Centre's Atrium.
Regardless of one's political affiliations, it's worth everyone's while, to make a trip to the Old Factory Theatre to see the JSU's performance of two one-act comedies, God and An Actor's Nightmare.
The first of the two plays, God contemplates the nature of reality and freedom. It's about a director who discusses the end of his play with his principle actor. When each character discovers they act and feel according to someone else's carefully written script, that screenwriter then becomes an actor in someone else's play, as do the critics and audience.
The lines separating the realms of reality are blurred and the piece evolves from low-brow, one liners into chaotic, existentialist humour. Although there are a number of questions with funny answers, the play concludes God is dead and we are all ad-libbing our way into chaos.
God is an entertaining and thought-provoking piece, but it fails to live up to its full potential. Although the play lends itself perfectly to the intimate nature of the Old Factory Theatre, the acting lacks precision.
Also, little attention is given from the director to a crowded and at times, overwhelming stage. Yet even though it's lacking a degree of professionalism, there are several moments when the audience will find themselves spellbound by both laughter and philosophy.
An Actor's Nightmare deals with contrasting issues, taking a more psychological and less philosophical approach towards comedy. It concerns an actor who is thrown into a play he knows nothing about and tries to improvise the script.
Allusions to the classics, ad-libbed Shakespearian soliloquies and discussions about how Godot came and was a 'smelly racist' abound and should be appreciated by anyone with a minimal knowledge of theatre.
Although it's more entertaining and less contemplative than God, An Actor's Nighmare is not without depth. It demonstrates our personal loss of sanity and meaning when placed in an environment foreign from the one we know.
As opposed to God, the strength of An Actor's Nightmare lies in its cast. Ryan Kirshenblatt is absolutely hilarious, forging laughter from the slightest changes in facial expressions. His perpetual confusion turns the tense tone of the play into an exercise in comedic relief.
Nadir Peters plays the base and crude Ellen Terry perfectly, while Erin Gano handles the eccentric character, Sarah Siddons with ease. Every actor appears to be perfect for their respective parts and the jokes are timed, such that when you recover, you're immediately met with another.
The only weakness stems from the script, which at times, diverges too far from the central plot. Director Eliana Busheikin did an excellent job of containing these tangents and the personal set allowed the more visceral components of the piece to be seamlessly incorporated.
God and An Actor's Nightmare would be ambitious productions for any group, but as the set clearly exhibits, the JSU was working with a small budget.
Still, in the words of Sarah Siddons, from An Actor's Nightmare, "Isn't it extraordinary how potent cheap music can be."
God andf An Actor's Nightmare shows this afternoon at 2 p.m. and tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at the Old Factory Theatre (140 Ann Street). Tickets are $12 and $10 for students.