“Applesauce” sweetly sarcastic comedy with a sharp bite

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.

“Applesauce,” written by Rebecca Goldman ’07 and directed by Andrew Brown ’07, is sweet, soft, and goes down easy this weekend in Science Center 101.

Ellen (Jackie Avitabile ’09) swallowed sixty-four Advil because she “had a headache.” Her psychiatrist Moira (Natalie Bowlus ’08) is frustrated by her patient, but determined to stay perky. Parents Margaret and Jeff (Lisa Spitalewitz ’06 and Eric Mulligan ’08) are even more clueless, and her boyfriend Luke (Arthur Chu ’06) is caring, but terminally confused. Meanwhile, classmate Becky (Jessie Bear ’09) has taken Ellen on as her “community service project,” and Girl (Lauren Smith ’08) and Another Girl (Daniela Manopla ’08) are the stars of a painfully hilarious scene in the girl’s bathroom.

Technical Director Nora Nussbaum ’08 and Stage Manager Roby Velez ’09 have even managed to turn the floor of Science Center 101 into an appealing theatrical set.

Goldman wrote a rough draft of “Applesauce” for her Playwriting workshop last semester and spent winter break revising it. While passing it around her friends, somebody asked, “Is it going to be performed?” and she said, “Well, if somebody’s willing to direct itÉ” Brown ’07 was, and the result is a sweetly sarcastic comedy that you don’t want to miss.

While it may take a few scenes for the premise of a comedy about suicide to grow on you, once it does, the laughs just keep coming. The psychiatry sessions and the scene in high school are played delightfully over-the-top, the parents have some genuinely touching (and some genuinely hilarious) moments, and unexpected physical comedy can be found throughout the play–Jeff trying to eat with suicide-proof chopsticks, Moira doing yoga before her sessions, Ellen gargling up eighty-one Advil, and finally boyfriend Luke in an impressive display of manly strength.

At one point, Ellen says: “I take my pills like I take my complimentsÑcrushed up and with lots of applesauce.” We hope the cast and crew aren’t like Ellen–you’ll want to give them compliments by the whole after seeing “Applesauce.”

“Applesauce” plays in Science Center 101 at 8:00 PM tonight and Saturday, and at 2:00 PM on Sunday.

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