On Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10 at 8 p.m., Citamard put on its production of “Wanda’s Visit” in Dutcher Hall.
The play, both Citamard’s final production of last semester and first of this one, was a hilarious but brief showing.
“Wanda’s Visit” begins with a married couple, Marsha and Jim, breaking the fourth wall to provide the audience a prelude to the story. Their explanation, that Jim’s old high school girlfriend, Wanda, was coming to visit, interspersed with passive-aggressiveness and a bitter history of their 13-year marriage.
The scene quickly cuts to moments before Wanda’s visit. During her visit, Wanda talks (and talks and talks) about her checkered past, promiscuity, emotional imbalance, and her former and current attraction to Jim.
As she does, Jim has an initial intrigue to listen while Marsha, barely able to tolerate the visit itself, gets pushed further and further to an emotional explosion.
Wanda’s visit does more than just annoy, however. Senior Ralph DeStefano, the player of Jim, states Wanda’s appearance in their lives, “…may be on this path…the visit indicated that they’re miserable and need a change.”
While Wanda’s visit may act as a catalyst, after the deus ex machina forcible removal of her from the production (by two hired thugs), a final fourth wall breach dialog seems to display an overt sense of hope in the two characters, as well as an equal sense of doubt. As DeStefano and Senior Ashley Hudson, who plays Marsha, describe their characters, Jim still seems “void of excitement” and Marsha is still “shrewish.”
The ending gives a sort of expected disappointment, a so-sad-it’s-funny sense of closure.
However, this ennui and fishwifeishness was played to stellar caliber by, respectively, DeStefano and Hudson, while the raving Wanda was enthusiastically brought to annoying climax. In the play of the production, the hilarious interactions and contrasts of the Deborah and Raymond from Everybody Loves Raymond Marsha, along with the outrageous Wanda, react as hilarious outbursts and acerbic side comments. Says Hudson after really filling her part as the tense shrew, “[The director] joked we all fit our characters well.”
The play was able to keep the audience attent and laughing during its short time span, lasting just under 45 minutes.
The runtime actually was perfect for the effect of the play, accurately showing a small slice of life and becoming very accessible for the casual theatre attendee.
Sophomore Emily Vernacchio said of the play, “I’m not really into theater, but I really enjoyed this…it was really funny.”
When asked if she believed the play was very easily accessible, Hudson stated, “Definitely…It was short, informal…a light-hearted comedy, easy to get a laugh out of.”
“Wanda’s Visit” was also shown in the Spring at Millersville with the same cast. The shows were mostly identical, except, as DeStefano stated, “It was tweaked to enhance the comedic moments, using the feedback from the audience during the performances in the Spring.”
It was done in a series spanning two seasons for a few reasons. Firstly, it eliminated the lengthy process of auditioning and early rehearsals. Senior Ricky Hutchins, the acting director for the Fall production, humbly states, “I did organizing more than anything for this one.”
Ultimately, however it gave the university a chance to see a nice, polished, hilarious, and “easy to get” play at the beginning of the semester, and to show off the skills of MU’s theater.
The play, stylistically minimized to props and sound effects costing nothing for the former and voiced by the stage manager for the latter added to the hilarity, as well as made for a very utilitarian show.
Stated Senior Ricky Hutchins, president of Citamard and acting director for the play, stated that the play “…left a lot to interpretation for setting and movement.”
For example, the sofa was nothing but a quilt on three chairs, and the script stated to use those chairs and quilt also for the scene while Jim and Marsha are trying to sleep in their bed. Another example would be in the scene where Wanda is whisked away forcibly by hired hands was invoked by two men planted in the audience shouting, “Get her!” and carrying her out of the theatre.
The show was put on by Citamard, an all-student organization and branch of MU’s Theatre Department. Hutchins, also the president of Citamard for his second full year, took over the directing for the Fall after the former director, Senior Davina Lopez, was unable to.
Citamard has a few more productions this semester, including a short play night on Nov. 21-22 and their biannual Citamard Night Live in early December. Anyone interested in a well-produced play should attend or if interested in getting involved with Citamard should contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.