Friday, August 29, 2014

Review of The Arsonists at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Arsonists. It was by Max Frisch and it was adapted by Alistair Beaton. It was directed by Matt Hawkins. It was about a man named Gottlieb Biedermann (Robert Kauzlaric), and a man named Schmitz (Scott Danielson) came into his house and he wanted to stay in the attic. But Biedermann's wife Babette (Sarah Goeden) thought Schmitz was an arsonist. Beidermann thought the same thing but Schmitz made him feel bad so then he didn't send him out and call the cops. But then Schmitz had invited his friend Eisenring (Ira Amyx) to come stay with him. Beidermann and Babette got really scared so they decided to invite them to dinner so they could discuss it and find out if they were really arsonists. It is about how you can pretend somebody is not something that they are so then you can make yourself less scared. The play doesn't think that that is a good idea. If somebody comes to your house and says, "Of course, I'm not an arsonist" but they do everything an arsonist would do, then you should get suspicious instead of thinking, "They are probably just storing petrol up here for…for business reasons." I thought it was funny because it was so unrealistic and the way Biedermann was acting was just so dumb. When I was watching this show, I felt very nerve-wracked but then the funny parts were kind of like comic relief. It was funny, then nerve-wracking, then funny, then nerve-wracking. I think that it is great to have a show that incorporates actual aspects of real life but also is not very realistic. The actual aspect is that people sometimes try to make up stories for themselves so then they will believe themselves even though they know the stories are not true.

I thought the scene where Schmitz was eating breakfast but then Babette had to tell it was time to leave was a funny scene. It was funny how instead of thinking she was telling him it was time to go, he thought she thought that he had no table manners. Well, he didn't, but she's not so mean that she would actually say that. He basically tore off things with his teeth and chewed with his mouth open. It was funny when he said, "You wouldn't leave me out in the rain, would you?" and it looks like Babette is thinking, "There's no rain out" and then there's thunder and lightning. Crack-boom, it is suddenly raining! And I saw surprise go over her face. I thought the sound (design by Sarah Espinoza) was great because it happened right exactly the second after he said "You wouldn't leave me out in the rain!" The sound was great in the entire play, especially with the big sound at the end! The lights (design by Sean Mallary) were good too; I liked how the entire city seemed to be on fire in the little house blocks.

The scene where Biedermann found the Petrol was funny because the arsonists--now there are two--just were like, "Oh. It's just petrol." That was funny because it is totally unrealistic that Eisenring just tells him that it is petrol. And Biedermann's face just went crazy: his mouth went open and his eyebrows went unlevel with each other. And he is also making the detonator out in the open and he gets Biedermann to put the wire all around the house. They basically make a game of putting the detonator wire all around. You know it is not a good idea, but it is just so ridiculous that it is funny. And basically for the entire next scene they are just dodging around wire. I think they did that to show that they are trying to pretend that the wire isn't there, but it is actually there and it could hurt them.

There was a scene that showed how Mr. Biedermann knew that they were arsonists because he decided to invite them over for dinner and let them go easily so they wouldn't feel super bad. But he also wanted them to feel like "oh he's just like us," so they wouldn't set the house on fire. He is afraid that they think he is too rich and fancy, so then he makes it seem like he's not very rich or fancy. And he tells Anna (Rebecca Wolfe) the maid to wear a sweater instead of an apron and not to put out silverware or serve the goose on a platter. But then at the dinner table Eisenring says, "I sure would like it if there was some silverware, or napkins, or finger bowls." And then Biedermann says, "Oh we have those! Oh, Anna, why were you so silly not to put out the finger bowls and napkins." And then she's like, "But you you told me…" and he interrupts and says, "But really, why did you not?" and she says "You told me not to!" and storms out of the room. I think that shows more about how servants are treated and how the bosses shouldn't blame everything on them.

People who would like this show are people who like petrol, bad table manners, and finger bowls. People should definitely go and see this show. I thought it was funny, suspenseful, and it made me think about what it would be like to be in that kind of situation and what you would do. I would send them out of the house even if it made them feel bad. If they said, "We are not arsonists," I would say, "What is that detonator in your hand and why are you flicking that lighter so creepily!"

Photos: Chris Ocken

1 comment:

Brad @ IceCreamUScream said...

I was quite taken by this show, but I haven't always known how to describe the dual effect it had on me. Next time I'll quote you: "It was funny, then nerve-wracking, then funny, then nerve-wracking." You hit the nail on the head.