By Alexis Schulz
A frenzied steam of transgression and anguish rose up onto the Open Arts Stage in Bordentown where Justin Giachetti, junior theater performance major, debuted his play Inferno: A New Work About Sin on Aug. 14 and gave voice to sinful vices.
Depraved characters, representing the seven deadly sins, conjure up a sense of dismay as they realize that they are stranded in a hellish limbo with Satan as their moral compass.
Each character tells his or her story of final moments and actions, before ending up in a room with changing hallways and no escape.
The opening scenes abstractly identify the performance’s intrigue, acted out in perplexing silence. However, each sin, as explained through stories of each character’s life, begins to blow intoxicating depth into the reality of corruption and immorality.
Each character’s insights take the issues of eating disorders, prostitution, murder and unfaithfulness and weave them into mesmerizing tales.
Each story takes hold of the audience’s senses with chilling screams of horror, the lashing out of anger and the welling up of despair.
Jenna Moschella, junior theater performance major, who plays Erin, was the only other Rider student in the play and took on “envy” through her story of an accidental child who never lives up to her sister’s reputation.
Her character’s envious, stubborn ways cause her to murder her sister in a tragic, captivating and writhing performance of anger and hatred.
As the stories are told, tensions rise inside the room. In one of the last scenes, Phoebe, a conservative Christian played by Liz Carlin, appears in the room abruptly, triggering all the others’ anxieties and causing heated anger.
Phoebe’s presence causes a breaking point within the performance where captivating stories become overthrown by a curious plot twist.
The characters become pitted against one another, and eventually Gus, a character ravaged by an eating disorder, who is played by Giachetti, eats himself to death.
This undoing stimulates the characters to give in to the sins that they portray and kill one another.
Satan reveals himself as the architect of each character’s tribulation but viewers are left to question Satan’s nature when he becomes distressed over the death of Phoebe.
After all the characters die, Lyla, a girl sold into prostitution by her mother, played by Jennifer Suter, is invited by Satan to become his companion for all eternity. At the last minute, however, Lyla is rescued by God and placed into heaven.
The performance’s ending was marred by a tangled plot line that masked the true raw emotion and craft of each character’s individual story. But the pure emotion and guile each story presented surpassed the perplexity of the performance’s end.
The actors had true devotion to the characters they were representing and were able to bring each of their tragic stories to life, leaving a lasting impression on how each sin was interpreted.