Playwright: Russel Niessen, Stephen Ingram, River Guard, Emma Greve
Cast: River Guard, Russel Niessen, Rachel Estok, Kit Simmons, Camille Intson
Jennifer Francis, Nora Fenton, Jaqueline Gruba, Radu Ciobor, David Gibble, Bart Ronde
Director: Russel Niessen
Warning: Mature Content, Strobes
Performed at The Staircase/The Players’ Guild
Review by: Nicole Williams
What to say about Asylum? A high school production, Asylum centers on Eli, a self-committed patient in a 1940’s mental hospital. During his stay, Eli meets token rebellious patient Tom, and May, a girl who has yet to remember her past with whom he falls in love. Though there are genuinely talented singers amongst the cast, the score and acting of this play unfortunately fail to escape the cheesy nature that one tends to expect from high school productions.
What the play promises is insight into mental hospitals during the 1940’s, accompanied by a rock genre musical score. The insight the audience is given is a “dramatic” view of patients becoming numbers on a form and being harshly subdued with electroconvulsive therapy. Every turn in Asylum is something I have seen before, which makes taking the play seriously particularly difficult. As for the score, I found the never ending tinkering of piano tedious and distracting. The genre of music is more classically broadway-esque than anything I would ever describe as “rock”.
All in all, there are some genuinely enjoyable moments in Asylum, but those moments are quite few and far between. This play is for the extreme musical lover only.