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When the play “Penelope” first began, I wasn’t sure if we were really watching a story based on The Odyssey. The props were modern and the man in pink Speedos reassured me that this could not be a story of Odysseus and Penelope.  As the men began to mention the “prize” and Penelope herself, I began to feel more at ease. I enjoyed their humor, sarcasm, and mocking tone. They were clearly four suitors who disapproved of one another. Quinn was clearly the bully out of the four men, but it was his clever plan for the men to support each other and combine their talents that underlined the main theme of brotherhood in the play.

I thought the acting was a success, especially during the monologues. Although the monologues were themselves very lengthy and the actors were clearly trying to be all theatrical even as their lines dragged on, their acting didn’t sway and they remained powerful in their words and actions. I thought Dunne’s monologue was silly and a failed attempt at charming Penelope. Fitz’s was evidently sincere and philosophical. Quinn’s was undoubtedly overdone, but truly hilarious. Burns’ was saddening and emotional, but easily relatable. Overall, the monologues were unnecessarily lengthy but Dunne’s and Quinn’s monologues brought back my enthusiasm for the play. I liked the sudden noises and light changed that the play threw in, such as the siren and the flaming barbeque grill.

Penelope seemed like a detached robot the entire play, mainly because she didn’t say one word. I figured the play wasn’t about her, but rather the philosophy of competition, brotherhood, and the fight for love.

As for the Shakespeare afternoon, I had trouble understanding much of what the host was talking about, because of his British accent. I generally have stage fright, so I didn’t volunteer to act. I liked that we didn’t just read from the script, but that the host stopped us to correct us with our pronunciation and emphasis on certain words. He was very knowledgeable in not just the lifestyle of Shakespeare’s time, but also in many of Shakespeare’s works. I was highly impressed. Our host was barefoot and forward with many topics some people squirm at, so he was clearly trying to connect with his audience and relate to us on a personal level. He kept us on edge with his jokes and made us ponder about the effect of even minor aspects of acting on the entire meaning of a play.

-Polina Mikhelzon

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