Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Written and directed by junior Ryan Reed, the stage reading “EVOLUTION” follows the main character, Zach, through his struggles with his past actions and thoughts about himself as an individual. Throughout the two-hour show, the main characters internally struggle with issues of sexuality and growing up.
There were five main characters of the show, who all went to highschool together. Zach, the main character, was played by sophomore Tom Covington. A close friend and often the “voice of reason” is Lily, played by sophomore Olivia Rubrum. Arlo Kiss plays Ky, one of the main friends in the group. Senior Sam Gamez plays a pretty vulgar character in Connor. And Ellery Overstreet plays the last of the characters in the main friend group, Henry.
The show focuses on Zach, who, in high school, would make parody videos with his close friends. The first scene of the show depicts the friends making one of these videos, which includes some themes of homophobia and vulgarity. The main friend group set the show by creating a parody video of Star Wars in which the “legendary space-pride-army” has to escape the “monogamous empire” and the heroes, Finn and Poe, are in love.
Later on in the show, viewers realize that this scene was the most pivotal in Zach’s life; it changed his life and how he views himself forever.
As Zach and his friends continue on with their lives, people start to view Zach differently because of this video and, despite him trying to make amends by creating his own “different” movie, he still has this immense sense of guilt for the past. And then the friend group unravels.
The dialogue from most characters was very vulgar. At times, it may have been a little distracting, too. There were certain times where Connor didn’t need to be dropping an f-bomb every couple minutes. But, then again, that may be how some high school kids talk. The vulgarity added a raw feel to the play, allowing viewers to relate a little more than if the show had been censored.
Something worth noting is the very fluid motions in between scenes that were set by a well-put-together crew. Soph Sawyer, scenic designer, did a great job. The actors themselves would bring out the props and stage design and it was clear things were well-rehearsed.
Monologues and scenes with inner voices made this show really stand out. Multiple scenes were just focused on Zach, talking through his thoughts and emotions, sometimes accompanied by three voices in his head, which were played by actors standing behind him. These voices, played by Briana Hashim, Gabriel Watkins-Mocumb and Izzy Rines, added a deeper layer to the inner turmoil of Zach.
Watkins-Mocumb played not only one of the voices, but also Tyler and a “Local Man.” He was a hidden gem and, though not one of the main characters, often stole the show, especially with the humorous performance as the “local man.” This was Watkins-Mocumb’s debut on Bininger Theatre’s stage and he definitely proved himself here.
Lily, played by Rubrum, also commanded the stage with her strong personality and professionalism. The death of her character in the second act was completely unexpected. Zach’s friend Connor often made anti-semetic comments toward Lily, yet Zach never stopped him. Her death symbolized a change for Zach, and finally having to own up to his past actions and current guilt.
The first act of “EVOLUTION” was stronger than the second. The second act seemed significantly shorter. Most of the events occurred in the first act, with the second act taking place a couple years after the events of the first act. But, that’s not to say the second act was boring, it just had less going on.
Before the show started, The P.A. announced explained that the show would include homophobia, antisemitism, prejudice, intrusive thoughts and strong language, which started the audience on an apprehensive feeling. But by the end, the audience realizes why those themes were so important to include. The actions of characters enforcing stereotypes and being homophobic comes back to haunt them in the end. This show demonstrates that past actions can have serious consequences but that people have the ability to change, only if they want to.
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