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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Observer

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SMC seniors flex theater muscles in 'The Seafarer'

This weekend, Saint Mary's theater seniors will perform their senior compressive production of "The Seafarer" by Conor McPherson. Senior comprehensives are mandatory projects for all Saint Mary's seniors to fulfill graduation requirements, yet the theater comprehensive consistently stands out as the most intriguing.

The idea to perform the “The Seafarer” as the senior project started as a joke. Mimi Panzica, the director of the show, said, “We were meeting to discuss what show we wanted to do, and we began suggesting silly concepts for productions — 'No Exit' done in a Sandbox, 'Clue' in the Barbie Dream House, etc. A. Milz suggested we stage 'The Seafarer' on a boat. Most of us had already read the show in play analysis class, so this was like a lightbulb moment for us. I remember sitting there like, 'Oh my God, we have to do “The Seafarer,”' and here we are!”

“The Seafarer” unfolds the tale of a young woman returning to modern Dublin to care for her blind sister, set against the backdrop of a Christmastime card game with stakes far more perilous than any of the characters could anticipate. This production is outstanding!

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The performances of all actresses were remarkable, particularly Isla Hofmann, who portrayed the blind sister with such authenticity that I was astounded when she made eye contact with me. Equally impressive was Hannah Bruckman, who excelled as the enigmatic Ms. Lockheart, masterfully straddling the line between a cosmic horror antagonist and a casual card player.

The story tends to flip-flop between a very “Derry Girls” style of humor, the comedy derived from many characters talking over each other and criticizing one another, and cosmic horror. This production is able to switch expertly between the two very different tones with the use of lighting; all of the humor scenes are lit as a single-camera sitcom, and the cosmic horror scenes switch to much more dramatic lighting.

Every theater major had a hand in this production in one way or another, many of them taking on multiple roles. For instance, Natalie Biegel not only plays the lead but also serves as the dialect coach and lighting designer.

Every element on stage, from the costumes to the sets, is entirely student-crafted, achieving a quality that rivals professional productions. These actors have spent the last four years in productions with each other, and it shows. The performer's apparent closeness enhances a lot of the dialogue. Isla Hofmann and Natalie Biegel can perform siblings so well that I was surprised to find they weren't related. 

Overall, this production of “The Seafarer” is exemplary, and I can't wait to see where these performers go after graduation.

“The Seafarer” will be performed on March 1 and 2 at Little Theater in Moreau Center for the Arts at 7:30pm. Tickets are free for all audiences, so be sure to check it out!