Section: Arts

Dark comedy 3C teaches audience to laugh through the pain

Dark comedy 3C teaches audience to laugh through the pain

When Mackenna Goodrich ’20 received an email from The Horn Gallery offering a grant for applicants who wanted to present a play, she jumped at the opportunity to direct her take on 3C, a play she had seen over the summer.

3C, written by David Adjmi, puts a darker lens on the same setup featured in the sitcom Three’s Company. While the sitcom tells the story of what happens when a man moves into an apartment with two girls in the 1970s  (spoiler alert: hijinks ensue), Adjmi’s play reveals the underlying sexism and homophobia of the era.

“I thought the concept of taking a sitcom and using it to make an actual societal point was really interesting,” Goodrich said.

While the play itself has a unique premise, this production was also noteworthy because everyone in the cast and crew is a first year.

“We didn’t intentionally try to be all first years,” Goodrich said. “We had people who weren’t freshmen show up and audition — it just happened that the people who fit the roles the best were. And I think that’s really exciting.”

What could have come across as an overambitious play resulted in a well executed and meaningful theatrical experience for everyone in the audience.

“There’s a lot of vulgar language and a lot of harsh things that happen in this play,” Jenny Nagel ’20, the stage manager, said. “But it has to be an experience that can make people laugh and think.”

This production of 3C was certainly hard to get acquainted with. At the start of the play, the acting reads as overdone and insensitive to the topics at hand.

But then, like magic, the plot reaches its point of no return — the assault of one of its characters — and everything that has happened leading up to that moment makes sense. It becomes clear that the acting and directing choices were very intentional in their melodrama, and the comedic characters become the perfect foils to the severity of the dramatic action.

This shift was most clear in the performance of Michael Grace Fisher ’20 as Connie, a bubbly, blonde girl whose interests don’t seem to extend beyond shopping and cute boys. As the plot moved forward, what read as a caricature was revealed to be an incredibly subtle performance, highlighting the true complexity to her character’s dark past.

This performance is perfectly juxtaposed with Linda, Connie’s reserved and self-conscious roommate, played by Sarah Dailey ’20. Though her lines were never as loud — and actions never as exaggerated — as Fisher’s, Dailey’s performance found a blend of sitcom cheesiness and theatrical prowess.

One of the greatest examples of this delicate pairing came from Ethan Starr ’20. Starr played Brad, the third and final roommate in apartment 3C and a Vietnam War veteran struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality.

In one scene, Brad hides his arousal from his friend Terry, played by Garrick Schultz ’20. Though the scene easily could have crumbled into an immature sex joke, it instead showed the struggle of Starr’s character, creating immense empathy for his delicate situation — and it still had a funny erection joke.

Much of the play worked like that one scene: It sorted through a vast array of pain and trauma while allowing audiences to keep laughing the whole way through.

Despite the intensity of the subject matter, the cast and crew handled 3C delicately and expertly, proving that you don’t have to be a veteran to the Kenyon drama scene to put on a brilliant production.

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