Characters morph into people they never expected to
“Bye Bye Birdie” closed Sunday afternoon and the theatre department is ready to close their studio season with “Melancholy Play”.
Melancholy is a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.
Written by Sarah Ruhl, this contemporary farce takes place in Illinois where we meet Tilly, a dramatic bank teller.
At the top of the show, we encounter Frank, a tailor that reminds Tilly of an almond. Moving into the next scene, this leaves the audience wondering why Tilly thinks Frank is like an almond.
We next meet Tilly’s foreign psychologist, Lorenzo, who confesses to the audience that he lacks emotion. Ironically, Lorenzo pleas that he loves Tilly in their session together which she apologizes for.
Next, we meet Frances, a hairdresser that gave up her last job to pursue her dream. Alongside Frank, they tell the audience about leaving their jobs to fulfill their dreams.
Tilly takes a trip to Frank’s tailor shop to have her pants hemmed where she tells him she’s seen him at her bank. Quickly, they jump to a conversation about emotions which results in the tailor and teller kissing.
In another session, Lorenzo asks Tilly about her experience with Frank but soon swerves the subject about his own love for her.
Abruptly ending the conversation with Lorenzo, Tilly rushes to go and get her hair cut.
Back at her apartment, Frances tells her girlfriend Joan about her appointment with Tilly. Agreeing that they can trust her, the couple invites Tilly over for tea.
Frank and Tilly talk about sex followed by the tea scene between Tilly, Joan and Frances. At tea, Tilly speaks about love but quickly stops in self-contemplation. From talking about it, Tilly begins to feel unwell, Joan tosses on a record while Frances straddles Tilly. Before Joan can return, Frances dismounts.
After Tilly, has gone, Joan and Frances confess to each other both of their attractions for Tilly. Suddenly, Frances realizes she has lost her sense of smell.
Later, on Tilly’s birthday, Frank gifts Tilly some flowers and from the happiness the gift has brought her, she sings when everyone shows up to her party. Everyone shows up to the party but Frank, who is at home with a stomach ache. Ecstatic from the gift, everyone plays duck, duck, goose and when it is Tilly’s turn, she is moved by everyone’s beauty and decides to retire to her room.
After her party, Tilly wants to express her happiness to Frank but he doesn’t feel the same excitement which makes Tilly want alone time with her own happiness.
Tilly confesses to Lorenzo that she is incredibly happy which triggers Lorenzo’s own sadness because her happiness results in less time together.
Frank begins to defend melancholy once again, naming Tilly as a main cause. Stopping by Frances and Joan’s place, she tells them how happy she is causing the couple to feel sick. After Frances calls in to work and this prompts an argument between the couple until Joan eventually storms out.
Back in Lorenzo’s office, Frank unveils how he met Tilly and how they fell in love. Revealing a vial of Tilly’s tears from when she was sad, Lorenzo encourages Frank to take his meds or book a room at the hospital.
Lorenzo fights Frank for the vial of tears and as Joan and Frances walk in, Frank hands off the vial to Joan to keep away from Lorenzo. Once Frances learns of the vial’s contents, she downs the vial and the four people sing about Tilly’s happiness.
Slowly, each character begins to morph into something they weren’t born as. Want to find out these characters’ fates? Come see “Melancholy Play” in the Andreas Theatre.
“Melancholy Play” opens Wednesday, April 18 in the Andreas Theatre and closes Saturday, April 21. Tickets are available to purchase online at http://www.mnsu.edu/theatre/, by phone at 507-389-6661 or in-person at the box office Monday-Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. Regular tickets for “Melancholy Play” sell for $10.
Photo: (Courtesy of MSU Theatre)