‘Lady’ spurs questions among audience

Junior Nikki Wittenburg and senior Dan Chimento rehearse a scene from The Lady of Dubuque.
Junior Nikki Wittenburg and senior Dan Chimento rehearse a scene from The Lady of Dubuque.

By Valis Vicenty

Everyone loves to party right? The Lady from Dubuque, sponsored by Alpha Psi Omega opens in the middle of one, in which three couples are playing a drunken game of 20 Questions. The friendly guessing game takes a turn as we come to find out that one of the players, Jo, is terminally ill. Suffering from a substantial amount of pain, Jo boils over bitterly toward the rest of the guests, leaving one of them, Lucinda, in tears on her front lawn.

“We were best friends and then it gets to the point where she has gotten so sick and all of the hostility has heightened to no end,” said freshman Jillian Carucci, who plays Lucinda.

Jo’s anger turns to her husband, Sam, played by senior Dan Chimento, as both argue about her deteriorating health and what may happen when she dies.

“You can know that someone is in pain or that a tragedy is taking place,” Chimento said. “But you don’t see them take the pills and you don’t see them having passionate arguments because they love each other not because they’re angry.”
In the play written by Edward Albee, the mounting tension of Jo’s imminent death forces the audience members to ask themselves what kind of games we, as people, play with one another.

“The whole thing is word play, it’s a game,” director Kim Vogel said. “In everything, there is word play that you have to get over in order to figure out the story.”

The members of Alpha Psi Omega involved with the production played games themselves in order to get into their characters.

“We would play a game where we would just sit with a different person and discuss the stuff that is not written in the script,” said senior Michael Capuano, who plays Edgar. “You basically make up the whole history of your character that’s not in the script and people probably never even know.”

The play becomes a guessing game when two strangers appear: an elegant woman named Elizabeth and her black companion Oscar, played by Burlington County College student Christopher Jefferson. The woman claims she is Jo’s mother from Dubuque who has come to witness “her daughter’s death” and take her home, but Sam says otherwise and demands to know who she really is.

“She’s a mystery,” said junior Brie Applegate, who plays Elizabeth. “I’ve been watching movies with angels in them to see how people portray people who they aren’t.”

In trying to deal with death looming over her and meeting the woman who says she is her mother, Jo ends up running happily into the arms of Elizabeth, clearing the doubt from the minds of her friends despite Sam’s protests, which go ignored.

“You don’t [usually] see the mental and physical toll it takes on not only the people involved but their friends, too,” Chimento said.

It seems like all of the characters are having identity crises as Sam watches his friends turn on him to the point that he is tied down to a chair by his friends Edgar and Fred, played by junior Tommy Butler. It is Fred’s seemingly dumb fiancée Carol who eventually releases him but leaves him to deal with the strangers in his home by himself.

“It simply is how does one man deal with losing everything,” Butler said. “Losing his faith, losing his house, losing his wife, losing his friends, losing everything he knows and that he believes in.”

Ultimately, all of the questions that are raised in the play are not answered. The cast and crew agree that it has a relevant message and it should make the audience think.

“My crew came up to me and asked ‘Who’s really dying here? Is it Jo or is it Dan?’” Vogel said. “My goal is to make people walk out of the theater and forget where they parked and discuss it the entire way home.”

The Lady from Dubuque will show in the Yvonne Theater April 30 and May 1 at 8 p.m. and on May 2 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 each.

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