Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This weekend, Drama Board’s Night of Scenes, running at 7 o’clock on December 3 and 4 in Science Center 101, promises to entertain and amuse Swarthmore audiences. Featuring three distinctive and succinct performances: David Ives’ “The Philadelphia” and “Variations on the Death of Trotsky” and Christopher Durang’s “‘Dentity Crisis” each glibly examines the quirks of reality, personality, and perception.
Directed by Micaela Baranello, “‘Dentity Crisis” is the story of Jane who is recovering from a nervous breakdown amidst the eccentric behavior of her family and psychiatrist who seem to be contributing to her confusion rather than helping her to cope. Jane’s mother claims to have invented cheese, Jane’s father is also her brother, grandfather, and occasionally a French count attempting to woo her mother, and her psychiatrist has decided that he and his wife will spice up their marriage by each having a sex change.
While Jane comes to grips with the identities of the people surrounding her, another play tells the tale of one character’s struggle to realize that he is, in fact, dead. “Variations on the Death of Trotsky,” directed by Matt Dering, presents eight scenarios in which the Russian Revolutionary Leon Trotsky realizes that he has been murdered by his gardener. Beginning with the simple narration of an encyclopedia article by his wife, the variations become progressively elaborate as Trotsky is brought again and again to the inevitable realization that there is an ice-pick in his head.
In addition to challenging character and plot, the Night of Scenes offers “The Philadelphia,” also directed by Matt Dering, a play challenging setting, in which three characters in the same cafe are also simultaneously in entirely different states of mind. One is stuck in “the Philadelphia,” where he gets exactly the opposite of what he asks for, another is stuck in “the Los Angeles” where “life is beautiful,” and both are reflected upon by a waitress as they discuss their individual fates at a New York city cafe.