‘More than Before’ shines on Bonaventure stage
By Mary Best
Without a doubt, SBU Theater’s unconventional production of “More than Before” last weekend was bigger, braver and ultimately more brilliant than anything SBU Theater has produced in the past.
The 70-minute drama, directed by Ed. Simone, chairperson of the department of visual and performing arts, follows Girl’s reaction to her best friend’s death and how it affects her relationship with her mother and boyfriend.
The passionate cast of four transformed the intimate white stage in the Garrett Theater into a plethora of places and times. Emily West, a senior journalism and mass communication and theater major, plays Girl, whose grief over her best friend is the core of the show, and rightfully so. West delivered a Tony-worthy, emotional exploration into her character’s confusing feelings and thoughts.
The play doesn’t follow a traditional narrative arc, which fit Coughlin’s powerful text perfectly. Whether the actors performed a structured monologue, hastened dialogue or ambiguous audience interaction, Coughlin’s purposefully disorganized scenes bravely thrust the audience into the heart of the show. The abstract and occasionally whimsical production investigated the definition of grief and what it’s like to deal with such a complex emotion.
West began and ended the show with the same monologue, providing the audience with their only taste of closure in the story. Most of West’s “in-character” scenes, however, feature fights with her mother, played by assistant professor of modern languages Leigh Simone, and her boyfriend, portrayed by junior journalism and mass communication and theater major Freddie Alvarez. All the while she remains haunted by thoughts, memories and even visions of her silenced friend, Emily, played by sophomore journalism and mass communication and theater major Tori Lanzillo.
Alvarez’s breakout performance in his first onstage role at Bonaventure displayed a range of acting talent. He put his heart and soul into playing a devoted and loving boyfriend frustrated with his girlfriend’s constant change of emotion.
Leigh delivered a beautiful performance as Girl’s mother, projecting concern and occasionally snobbish frustration with her daughter’s constantly changing mind.
The set, painted in all white, designed by West and assistant professor of theater Rebecca Misenheimer, provided a neutral palette for the raw and gripping play.
The audience was seated in a thrust formation, with seats on three sides of the stage to expose the actors’ and Coughlin’s words to their rarest and purest form.
While performing for the entire room, the actors’ emotion could be felt regardless of their volume or body position. Their chemistry with each other was unmatched and, if anything, they played humans better than most people in everyday life.
If there is any hint of ambiguity or misunderstanding in this review, it’s because there are no words to describe what happened on stage last weekend.
Brava."More than Before", acting, drama, features, play, review, sbu theater, stage