S.E.T. play a success

Last Friday and Saturday, Student Experimental Theater (SET) brought “The Yellow Wallpaper,” an entirely student-run play to life on the Playshop stage.
Written and directed by Margot Miller, ’12, and Michael Young, ’12, the play was highly abstract and was adapted for the stage from the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in which a woman recovering from a breakdown sees prison escape images in her recovery room wallpaper, leading her to kill her husband John.

This play was very dense, written with layers of symbolism. Some of them were not immediately apparent to the audience and went largely unnoticed.

Yet other nuances had a big impact on both the audience and the actors, like the phosphate pills that spilled out of everything handed to Charlotte, symbolizing how out–of–touch Charlotte is with reality and how overwhelmed she is by the effort to recover.

Charlotte’s visible deterioration as she steadily becomes more unstable also impressed many viewers, who noted the abilities of the lead actress Katie Krackhard, ’13.

“The lead was very convincing and did a very good job,” said Lisa Smith, ’11.
Audience member Mary Hannson had a similar impression, joking, “She’s good at being crazy.”

All jokes aside, every actor and actress carried their role well, a fact that was enhanced by the quality lighting and sound effects that were incorporated into the play.

“It was very well made for being student run,” agreed Stephanie Alberico, ’11.
The cast of “The Yellow Wallpaper” seemed to share a pride in the fact that the play was entirely student–run.

“It’s very self–fulfilling,” said Michelle Chaho, ’13, who played the role of Jennie the housekeeper. Chaho went on to describe everything that the student directors, Miller and Young, had done to make the production happen, from writing the play to cleaning up afterwards.

“I’m grateful and impressed. They deserve credit,” Chaho said.

Leo Leon, ’12, who played the role of John, also expressed his belief that student–run organizations such as SET are important.

“Believe me, it means a lot to have an audience see your visions come to life,” he said.

Like all other performances, there were some imperfections in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” For instance, scene changes occurred quite frequently and sometimes interrupted the flow of the play.

Other elements, such as the relationships between characters, seemed underdeveloped and at times awkward. Chaho spoke of the concern she initially had about the play pulling itself together in time.

“It honestly didn’t look like a show until our last week,” she said.

Despite these imperfections, the audience’s feedback about the play was still mainly positive, although some outliers didn’t like the play’s distorted message. Chaho explained the sometimes confused reactions of the audience, attributing it to the abstract nature of the play.

“I had a lot of people come up to me,” Chaho said. “They thought it was extremely weird but they thought that we were good. And quite frankly that’s what we all thought too.”

Leon felt that the play’s weird nature was what led many other audience members to appreciate “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

“I think people who enjoy analyzing abstract plays probably got a good thrill out of the show,” Leon said.