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Adrenaline pumping: Reviewing “The 24 Hour Theatre Project” and “Boomshaka: Disclosure”

Zach Barr, Theater Columnist

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I’ve heard people talking about this last weekend as “the gap week” for student theater. True, none of the nine major student theater groups on campus put anything up, but there were certainly shows to go see (beyond just the second weekends for “Double Feature” and “Charlotte’s Web”). The always anticipated performance by student rhythm group Boomshaka played in Norris University Center’s McCormick Auditorium, and the independently organized “The 24 Hour Theatre Project” played as a Struble Project.

Now, due to the brevity of the “24-Hour” plays, with the longest clocking in at 20 minutes, I’m going to limit the amount of time I spend on them. Thus, here are all three shows from the Project, in exactly 75 words each:

“Last Friday Night,” written by Communication senior Yagmur Tok, directed by Communication freshman Nat Kier:
Far and away the best show of the evening. I didn’t really know what to expect of Tok since her, um, interesting writing in Fall Quarter’s “Devil Music,” but her writing skills are more than proven here. “Last” has really likable and well-rounded characters, all acted quite well by Medill junior Amanda Gilbert, Weinberg junior Mert Salur and a particularly successful Communication junior Lauren Stremmel. Tied together by Kier, it barely seems rushed at all.

“What Just Happened?,” written by Weinberg freshman Daniela DeLeon, directed by Communication sophomore Emily Martin:
On the far other end, this play seems rushed together in every way. Miraculously, though, that almost seems to work in the play’s favor. It’s so delightfully surreal, relishing in its absurdity in a way you just have to admire. A more realistic look at multidimensional travel than most, it’s vibrantly entertaining and doesn’t try to be anything less (kind of like Waa-Mu, if Waa-Mu had 24 hours and seven people). On the whole, fun.

“Tick Tock,” written by Communication junior Gus Schlanbusch, directed by Communication freshman Alex Kohanski:
I’ll be interested to see Schlanbusch’s recently-announced play “Moonshine” in next year’s season for Vertigo because this play left me very lukewarm. It takes forever to set up conflict, doesn’t seem to have any purpose and is built around very stilted dialogue. Still, there are some moments of comedy that work, mostly involving attempted tick murder. I would say you can’t expect much in 24 hours, but “Last Friday Night” is on the same bill.

Still, I suppose any play developed in only 24 hours is impressive in its own right. You can barely even hear the team behind the project panting after a long day of theatrical work.

Then again, you also can’t hear the team behind “Boomshaka: Disclosure” panting, but that’s because you can’t really hear anything in the theater. I got the sense about halfway into Boomshaka’s show that I might not have been the intended audience. I was sitting a few rows back from the front, taking in all the impressive percussion and rhythmic skill. Most players, however, seemed to be more focused on the orgy of drunken students in the first few rows. Which is fine. I mean, this is why I don’t go to concerts that often: I care more about the music than the experience of being there. Yes, I’m aware that I’m crazy.

It’s no surprise, given the previous paragraph, that my favorite acts were ones where I could hear the rhythms really well, with a quieter audience. “Family Stewelz,” “(Onions),” “Get Trashed” and especially “Material Girls” all showed off the frankly unnatural talent these drummers and dancers have. Some acts, such as the visually engaging “Partly Clowny,” would have been better if the audience had quieted down because it’s very hard to increase the volume of body percussion. But, overall, “Boomshaka: Disclosure” was a fantastic evening of theatrics and music that managed to simultaneously make you want to join the group as well as prove that you’re probably not good enough to do so.

Yet.

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Twitter: @admiralzachbarr

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