Thursday, March 2, 2017

Review of First Floor Theater's Peerless

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Peerless. It was by Jiehae Park and it was directed by Hutch Pimentel. It was about twins named M (Aurora Adachi-Winter) and L (Caroline Chu) who are in high school. Even though they are twins, L has stayed back a year, so they can go to the same college without competing. Only one minority gets in to the college each year from their school. And they want it to be M, but it doesn't end up that way. Instead it is D (Jesse Massaro) who is part Native American. They need to get into that college so they make up a plan for M to take his place. It is based on Macbeth which is really awesome; I love modern Shakespeare stories. It was like a cross between Macbeth and Heathers, which are two of my favorite things. I thought this was a really fun and terrifying and suspenseful and amazing show. I have never seen anything like it, and I absolutely loved it.

There were a lot of awesome references to Macbeth that you see throughout the show. L and M are Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. L sets the whole plan in motion and persuades M, who keeps wanting to back out. D is Duncan because D has everything that L and M want. Later D haunts L and M, and L says "come back to bed" and I just had this moment of "Hey! Macbeth reference!" I think BF (W. Matt Daniels), who was M's boyfriend, was kind of like Banquo and Fleance because he was a friend and then M and L betray him. There was also someone representing the three witches, and that was Dirty Girl (Amanda Fink). She was basically like the goth girl that no one liked. She can tell the future, even though sometimes it is misleading. The rats, that are kind of like her pets and live in her pocket, they talk about a little in Macbeth: one of the witches says "And like a rat without a tail / I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do." They also had this moment when D's brother was knocking to indicate if he was ok and if he needed help. And then he knocks that he needs help and that reminded me of when Macbeth keeps hearing knocking after he has killed Duncan. Both M and Macbeth feel like "oh no, someone's coming for us!" and I think that M and Macbeth feel very similar in this moment: they feel like maybe they shouldn't have done what they've done.

I liked the way this play was stylized, especially how they used six lockers for the entire set (by William Boles and Arnel Sancianco). They didn't just use them for one thing. They used them for lockers, and doors, and beds. I also thought the sound (by Thomas Dixon) was really creepy and awesome. They used these rat noises that would make you shiver in your seat. They had these light panels (by Claire Chzran) that looked a lot like what you would see in a school, but then they would change to different colors. They used the school aesthetic for so many different things and transformed it, and I thought that was really interesting. The twins and Dirty Girl used stylized language, but the rest of the people were a little bit more natural sounding. When the twins spoke to each other they seemed like their minds were connected because they were always able to finish each others sentences. And sometimes one of the sisters doesn't finish her sentence and the other knows what they are trying to say but sometimes doesn't say it. I think that showed that the twins and Dirty Girl are different from the rest of the school. They all have slightly darker minds. It is stylized in a way like Shakespeare is stylized but it doesn't sound like Shakespeare.

My favorite scene was the school dance. I thought that it was funny, and it was cool to hear all the songs they were playing in the background. You learned so much in that scene about all the characters in it--like how M is a really awkward dancer. There were so many moments in that scene that made me want to curl up in a ball. Because slow dances at schools are cringe-y and terrible. Everyone is 5 feet apart from each other and trying to reach each other's shoulders without being arrested. It is the first time you really get to know D and you find out he seems to be an weird and sad person, but tonight apparently was the best night of his life because he was going to the dance with the prettiest girl in the school, M. You felt very sorry for him because he didn't really seem to have an eventful or happy life. But he tries to make the best out of his sad stories, which kind of makes them funny, even though he was telling a story about trying to kill himself. He talks about this strange vision where there was this guy he called his "chief" who said D was being weak and he should wake up, but he said "wake up" in a very forceful way and over and over again like he was reliving the moment, but for some reason it was still pretty funny. It was a pretty ridiculous vision he had, even though killing yourself isn't funny. I think this play does that a lot. It makes very dark situations funny. M and L in this scene are basically trying to get D to feel comfortable around them so they can murder him. There are also some awesome sibling rivalry moments where instead of arguing they just stare each other down and make the other person know they did something wrong. Like when M threw her tree nut cookie into the drink that D was having to save him from drinking poison, L just walked up very close to her face and stared at her. I think that is very relatable and hilarious.

People who would like this show are people who like Macbeth references, stylized language, and awkward slow dancing. I think that people should definitely definitely definitely go see this show. It is a really amazing, nerdy, creepy, and hilarious show. I really really loved it. I hear they added some performances, so there is a chance you can still see it!

Photos: Ian McLaren

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