Saves The Day

Megan Friedman

Megan FriedmanThe cast and crew of How To Save Your Family From Dying sits cross-legged on the floor of Harris 205, some sporting bare feet, others ripped jeans. They’ve drawn lines in chalk on the floor to mark the boundaries of the stage and have set up a few chairs to represent a couch. They’re taking a break from rehearsal, yet hardly any of them choose to sit in a chair.

The people of How To Save Your Family From Dying are a casual bunch, and it is a casual play – well, if you could describe a play about superheroes as “casual.”

“The plot of the show is that two brothers are trapped in their home during a blizzard over Winter Break, and their family is dying,” says director Chris Hejl, a Communication senior. “So they decide to become superheroes to save their family.”

According to Hejl, the brothers start out just pretending to be superheroes but then actually gain superpowers through a mysterious incident in a bathtub filled with oatmeal.

Accompanied by their neighbor Brittney (Communication sophomore Elly Lachman), the brothers use their newly found superpowers to attempt to save their family. However, their actions are made complicated by the local UPS man, Brown, played by Medill senior and Daily Public Editor Matt Weir.

The play focuses on the dynamic between the two teenage brothers, Andrew and Mikey. Andrew, the older of the two, feels inadequate compared to Mikey, says Dan Foster, a Communication junior who plays Andrew.

“He’s got issues with the fact that his older brother is better than him at everything,” says Foster.

“(Mikey’s) good at most things,” says Josh Schecter, a Communication junior who portrays Mikey. “I mean, he spends the first half of the play with chicken pox and then gets superpowers.”

How To Save Your Family From Dying is produced by Vertigo Productions, a group that exclusively sponsors student-written plays. For writer Andrew Lampl, How To Save Your Family From Dying was a first foray into playwriting. He says he appreciates the forum Vertigo gives to aspiring playwrights.

“It’s one of the only outlets on campus where students can have their own work produced, and the entire production is run by students,” the Communication senior says.

Lampl says he had various inspirations while writing the play.

“When I write, I like to think of what I would find really cool on stage, so I just thought ‘brothers, superheroes and a bathtub,” he says. “I was also inspired by an improv scene I saw Chris Hejl and Nick Kanellis (who plays the boys’ father) do where they played a younger and older brother, and I thought, ‘That’s a great dynamic. I want to do something like that.'”

Despite all the show’s theatrics, Hejl says How To Save Your Family From Dying carries an important message.

“(The audience is) going to love everyone they’ve ever loved more,” Hejl says, “particularly members of their own family.”

Plus, Hejl promises that there will most definitely be spandex.

How To Save Your Family From Dying goes up in the Louis Room on May 17 at 8 p.m., May 18 at 8 and 11 p.m. and May 19 at 8 and 11 p.m.4

Medill freshman Megan Friedman is a PLAY writer. She can be reached at [email protected]