by Elana Spivack
Have you ever waited for a cat to give birth in a cardboard box on the floor of your college apartment? Have you ever lashed out at your housemates because they ate five of the 48 hamburger patties you bought? Have you ever hated somebody you lived with?
Maybe you’ve never done any of these things, but students and former students alike will recognize the giddy ridiculousness of a bunch of 20-somethings living together in Moonchildren, a dramatic comedy by Michael Weller. The show will offer much more than giddiness; delving into weightier topics, from dealing with cancer to fighting in the Vietnam War. The Kenyon College Dance and Drama Club’s (KCDC) production of the show will premiere tonight at 8 p.m. in the Bolton Theater, and will run from Friday at 2 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to Saturday at 8 p.m. over Family Weekend.
Moonchildren is set in 1960s-era America and follows eight college seniors who harbor different hopes for their future, but are all uncertain about what it will hold. Director Ben Viccellio ’98, who is also an assistant professor of drama, first read the play 18 years ago when he was a student at Kenyon and it stuck with him.
Viccellio said the play presents a rare opportunity for student actors in that they get to portray characters their same age. Though the play is set half a century ago, the characters’ concerns are still relevant. “I don’t think students in the ’60s are so different from students today that we need to somehow inhabit them with this idea that they are … some ‘other’ that we need to recreate,” Viccellio said. “One of the many reasons I chose this play is even though it’s set in the ’60s it is absolutely timeless.”
Mark Ashin ’18 plays Dick, a quiet student who acts standoffish toward his apartment mates. While Ashin said it was not challenging to play a college student, the task of wrapping his head around the severity of the Vietnam War proved difficult. “We’re talking about writing essays for philosophy class and what we’re going to do after we graduate … but with this [looming] thing of a war occurring,” Ashin said.
Despite the grave subject matter, the show relies on banter and timing to create a wickedly sharp and humorous narrative. Spencer Huffman ’17, who plays a disgruntled police officer named Bream, reflected on the challenge of pacing. “A challenge for the ensemble has been finding a pace that’s good for the humor and that tells the story well and does justice to what’s written,” Huffman said. “It would be very easy to not do justice to what’s written. It’s a difficult comedy.”
Tickets are on sale this week between 1 and 5 p.m. at the Bolton Theater Box Office, which can be reached at 740-427-5546. Kenyon student tickets are $2, general-admission tickets are $7.50, tickets for groups of 10 or more are $5 each and tickets for seniors, non-Kenyon students and children under 12 are $4.