College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

In review: ‘Young Blood,’ ‘Dollhouse’

Most nights within the majesty of a theater require all of your money and all of your attention. This week, you can see two very different productions within two hours for the price of one.

The main similarity between the two is that both were directed by students and connected to Chicago. Beyond that, the connections are slim.

“Young Blood,” a variety/reality show directed and compiled by senior Anna Donnell, is an unusual sight.

While spending the majority of her summer in Chicago, Donnell came across a theater company called Teatro Luna and their production about life as a Latina woman. She decided to bring the same concept to the University of Mississippi and designed a show around her interpretation of what it means to be a young adult in today’s day and age.

“It’s raw stuff,” Donnell said. “It’s supposed to have a rough edge. I wasn’t hoping to craft the perfect play. The cast brought the best things about themselves together to make a wonderful show.”

For the first 20 minutes or so of the performance, confusion might set in about whether this is a real show or not, but once you get past the stereotypical gender-role reversal in the beginning and get into the heart of the story, you begin to see the production take shape and become something real.

Maybe a little rough, but still real.

Christian Green is no stranger to telling the stories of others across the stages of Ole Miss, but this time you get a glimpse of the man behind the actor and the struggles he has faced and the progression the domino effect had on his life.

Danny Francis and Nicole Sherrill, both seniors, may not have been seen as much over their four years, but they hold the standout performance of the night with their piece to Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie.”

The ultimate example of collaboration, Sherrill took an idea and a song and ran with it to choreograph a stunning representation of domestic violence. She grabbed Francis along the way and the final product is as intense as it is beautiful.

As a proper representation of classic theater, Donnell misses the mark by a few miles, but she succeeded in her goal of connecting with the audience and bringing real life to the stage.

While the two productions are separated by a 10-minute intermission, one isn’t necessary here.

“Dollhouse,” written by recent Ole Miss alum Derek Van Barham and directed by junior Sam Damare, is the polar opposite of it’s first act predecessor,

Disapproving of the term “autobiographical,” Barham describes his play as personal.

“It’s definitely me up there,” Barham said.

Barham is currently in the Masters program at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and came back to Oxford for a few days just to see the original production of a show he wrote but had no hand in otherwise. Until Monday night, he had not seen any of the work Damare and the crew had done in the past two months.

Damare, after visiting Barham in Chicago over the summer, discovered a pay stub on the refrigerator from a publishing company. He asked to read it, keeping in mind the prospect given the previous semester of having the opportunity to direct a mainstage show, and liked what he found.

The story revolves around the lives of two men and the trials and tribulations of their relationship, but homosexuality isn’t the message.

“You go into it and say, ‘Oh, this is a gay show,’ and yes, it is about a gay couple, but what I would like it to represent more than a show about a gay couple is the stories of the people and seeing that the struggles they share as partners, and then as potential parents, represent struggles every relationship has,” Damare said.

Nick Bredosky and Bryan Harper, both juniors in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, mesh well as the couple and the only two consistent characters. From the scenes spent cuddling on the couch to the heated screaming matches across the apartment, the two express their emotions freely and deliver accurate performances of a relationship bound to a roller coaster track.

The two productions balance each other well to create a well-rounded night of theatrical enjoyment that covers every aspect of the spectrum and comes back for round two.

If you’re looking for a Tony award-winning production, get a plane ticket to New York. If you’re looking for a solid show that represents the interests of college students today from a to z, get to Meek Auditorium this week.

from DM by Amelia Camurati