By Kayla Tucker – A&E/Features Editor
The GRCC Players presented “Anton in Show Business” this past weekend in the Black Box of Spectrum Theater.
The cast is made up of eight women, and for a reason. Four women play main parts, and the rest play multiple parts and genders. By focusing on a minimal cast and set, the common struggles in theater were satirized as well as analyzed.
The play, an interactive satire on the art of theater and show business, written by Jane Martin, is centered around three actresses preparing for ‘The Three Sisters’ by Anton Chekhov, toying with theatrical stereotypes. Lisabette (Kendra Jones), a happy-go-lucky southern schoolteacher who is eager to be in theater, Casey (Jenna Bassett), a cynical actress just trying to make it, and Holly (Jasmine Piper), a famous actress who will go to great lengths to get her way and makes it so “every man in the audience is going to have to keep a program over his lap,” make up the centerpiece of the production.
While juggling directors, business partners, romances, and the critic’s interjections, the actresses surprisingly all came out in one piece.
Jaixone McPeak played three roles, with one exaggerating a “black southern woman”, Andwenyth. Joby (Elizabeth Szubinski), the critic, interjected from her seat in the audience – while surprising the audience- and assumed that Andwnyth’s role is offensive.
“If I didn’t do roles that offended my race (sex and taste)…I’d be shit out of work!” Andwenyth’s response was satirical and gave the audience a laugh or two. The play covered some touchy topics but not without comic relief.
Sarah Main played three roles as well, her longest one being that of a director, Ralph, who claimed he was “God”, symbolizing the crazy directors that live within the walls of theaters.
When Holly (Piper) attempts to hook up with fellow actor Ben (Olyvia Staples), she’s upset when he won’t give in, saying “I have a real life and I can hurt real people”.
“And what am I?” Holly said. “Animation?” Ben’s line is common in situations like these and this scene is a mockery.
The most bridge-building role was that of Elizabeth Szubinski who played Joby, a critic sitting in the crowd occasionally interrupting the play and questioning the actors and play itself, making the humor easier to understand in some places.
“I liked…the surprise of being in the audience and having no one in the audience know that I’m a part of the play,” Szubinksi said. “My ambition is to get someone else to say something.”
Jones closed the curtains with a monologue relating the audience to theatrics and encouraging them to appreciate the highs and lows of an actor’s experience.
“I just really want (the audience) to walk away feeling a connection,” Bassett said. “It’s such an interactive show.”
“Anton in Show Business” left the audience laughing and feeling connected to the drama and stress that theater brings to those brave enough to delve into it. At some points, though, the humor did seem as if only someone of the theater scene would understand.