Museum: An amusement

Assignment submitted 13 December 2015.

Museum, performed at the McCormack Theatre at UMass Boston on December 11, is a smart comedy written by Tina Howe and directed by Michael Fennimore. The plot is simple, though enjoyable. A security guard, Patrick (Hector Toledo Jr.) must maintain control over an exhibit on its last showing (the day I saw the production was especially ironic, as it, too, was the last showing of the play). He deals with unpermitted photographers (Joey Lawyer, Tom Luong, Sabina Lindsey), a sketcher (Ellie Dennis), a pair of hippies (Megan Jepsen, Cassidy Bane), an affectionate French couple (Rick Chason, Stanzi Potenza) and many others. There is not much else to the plot, but it’s not like there really needs to be.

One complaint I would have with the performance was that I didn’t always know the names of the characters. Some I learned just from watching and observing what they and others referred to them, though others I had to consult with excerpts from the script in order to solve this, as I couldn’t connect what name was which in the program I received. The more notable names I recall were the unseen or mostly unseen characters, the artists in the exhibit. There’s Agnes Vaas, the artist who sculpts with nature items such as animal skulls, rocks, and ferns and a mutual friend of Tink Solheim and Kate Siv, (Jepsen and Bane’s characters, respectively), Zachary Moe, a very minimalist painter and son of a deaf couple who appear at the play’s epilogue (Matt D’Innocenzo and Jessica Antoine) and finally, Steve Williams (Pat McCarthy), the only artist to appear on stage throughout the production. Williams is much revered in a way that could be likened to a god or rock star. His piece is by far the most unusual—a clothesline with cloth mannequins dressed in showy outfits, one of which is dressed exactly like him, accompanied by a basket of round-headed clothespins, which are much to the obsession of the guests, and a running gag throughout the production is that they keep getting stolen. The subtlety in McCarthy’s performance as Williams was brilliant. Though he never speaks, Williams’ warmness and pride is bountiful. In all, these three artists exhibited clearly satirize the criticisms of modern art.

The inclusion of Kate and Tink as hippies felt a little out of place at times. I understand the production was written in the 1970s, when such demographic was commonplace, though not as much now. I appreciate how their costuming modernized the concept, though, and made their looks much more subdued than the flowery outburst of such era.

On the subject of the hippies, Tink was by far one of most powerful performances, as she is one of the few characters to have a monologue. Her look of utter hypnotism and awe at Vaas’s work is impeccable. Jepsen clearly brought much depth to the character, highlighting just the right amount of humor and entrapment. Her chemistry with Bane’s character, as well, is remarkable. Bane displays a certain disgust and embarrassment for her friend during her reminiscing while still remaining a likable pal.

Clearly, the production is much recommended for a good laugh and idle viewing, as maintaining a clear focus towards it is not necessary in order to enjoy it (that is if you are unconcerned about knowing the character names in the program).

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