Tragic death shakes a family’s foundation

By Tara DeLorenzo

Clara, played by junior Serena Venditto, simultaneously battles depression and her apartment, played by sophomore Eric Dann, which has come to life after the unexpected loss of her husband. Following the tragedy, she and her daughter Janice have neglected the apartment, causing it to haunt the two until it is fixed.

The Rider musical theater and theater performance majors’ rendition of Sheila Callaghan’s Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) is dark, dramatic, twisted and filled with the heartache of a broken family and a rollercoaster of emotions, which the audience is thrown into.

With a cast consisting of five performers, directed by Fine Arts Chair Ivan Fuller, the production follows a mother and daughter, Clara and Janice, who are coping with the tragic and untimely loss of Janice’s father, and an apartment with a malicious plot in the works.

Clara, portrayed by junior theater performance major Serena Venditto, is plagued by memories and suffers from constant panic and anxiety attacks, becoming, as the apartment calls her, “a mother so flooded with sorrow she can’t see past her nose.”

Lost in a world of despair, Clara constantly turns to her sister, played by freshman theater major Alexandra Julian, and finds comfort in her celebrity crush, Harrison Ford, played by senior theater performance major Tom Garvin.

In addition to playing Ford, Garvin steps into the role of both the late father and Janice’s celebrity crush, Justin Timberlake. The 11-year-old Janice, played by freshman theater performance major Maeve Lynskey, frequently imagines Timberlake appearing in her room. She uses this hallucination as a coping mechanism as well as an outlet for reason and encouragement.

As a result of the loss of her father, Janice has become introverted and lost. She uses her dolls as a way to release all of the spiteful and pent-up aggression she carries and, like the apartment, she begins a plot of her own.

In the midst of their misery, the apartment, portrayed by sophomore musical theater major Eric Dann, is constantly watching over and interacting with them, begging and pleading for them to repair his rickety, tattered being; the floorboards are broken, and the heat doesn’t work. The apartment is enraged and consumed with bitterness as a result of their lack of care and begins constructing a plot to get rid of the residents.

Sharp and quirky, Crumble depicts the hardship and heartache of loss and the importance of love and family. It is a story of coming together. There are times of laughter and times that cause a heavy heart.

The set itself works with the theme. The apartment stands battered in a broken-down state, filling the whole stage except for one corner, which is dedicated to being Clara’s sister’s place. With broken floorboards, peeling wallpaper and everything in tatters, it is clear to the audience why the apartment feels so underappreciated and hostile.

The lighting and sound effects also add to the ambience. Dark and low-lit, the audience and theater are plunged into the same darkness with which the characters are all afflicted. Eeriness is also a factor, as the effects allow for each creak and squeal of the apartment to be heard all around. It is through all this that the audience is able to see how lost this family has really become.

Alongside these outstanding components is brilliant acting. Filled with easy banter and quick remarks, the cast and performance are engaging.

“They play off each other really well, especially for only five people,” freshman elementary education and psychology major Ashley Scavetta said.

Most notably, the interactions between Dann and Venditto are powerful and passionate. The despair Venditto portrays as she calls for the banging and creaking to stop is heartbreaking. Dann’s response to her, with such raw emotion, is just as commanding.

“Crumble was overall successful in pulling the audience in and keeping its attention all the way to the end,” said junior theater major Dan Argese, who attended the preview performance. “The blocking and overall direction of the show made a lot of sense and served the text very well. Finally, I felt the actors all equally did a wonderful job at creating the universe they survived in and telling the story of the piece. Everyone who performed in the show was very successful in their roles.”

This production has a unique humor to it, with the characters and the apartment interacting in perfect form together, without actually hearing each other. It is intriguing and full of promise. It is full of the unexpected and really draws in the audience. It is heartwarming and entertaining.

Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) is playing in the Spitz Theater from April 4-7. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students/seniors.

Printed in the 4/5/13 edition.

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