By Daniel Van Sickle
Adam Sharp’s “A Modest Proposal,” the newest play to premiere on campus, is really funny. The play begins with disorder and only gets more insane from there.
The play is an enhancement of the essay by Jonathon Swift. The political essay was written in Ireland in 1729 in a time when the genteel were prone to abuse children and many children lived on the streets. To remedy this situation, like his 21st century counterpart Stephen Colbert, Jonathon Swift sarcastically suggests, in the more aristocratic language of his day (which makes it at times hard to understand) , that poor families should sell their babies to the rich as a delicacy to eat.
The play takes this essay and asks the question, “what if a poor family had taken this essay seriously?” Sharp crafted a family known as the O’Really family. They decide to take the essay’s advice and sell one of their babies for food. The plot from there gets even sicker.
A few of the scenes used to establish the O’Really families are amusing. The actors that played them did a decent job at the beginning, but their acting was outstanding in the later scenes of the play.
The 2nd act of the play kept the audience roaring with laughter. Satire gets more ridiculous, therefore more humorous, so I think this is the reason the first act was not as enjoyable as the second act.
I think however, that part of the reason that the first act was not as exciting was as a result of the actors needing to warm up for opening night and get used to the audience’s presence. Once they warmed up, they ran through the play brilliantly.
There was not an actor that did not manage to get bursts of laughter from the audience, they all played their parts well, and some exceedingly well. Dan E. Campbell as Jonathon Swift showed that he is a professional actor. Among the most notable student performances were Mr. Wiley, played by Shane Schrag, theatre junior, Cillian acted out by Eli Rodda, microbiology freshman, Kennedy performed by Sydney Anderson, elementary education junior, and Bartley as depicted by Jacob Marney, english junior.
Also of note is the scene in which the character Aengus , played by Jordan Hill, psychology senior, acts out his mini-play, known as his showy show, and Juliette Lawrence, theatre tech senior, selling just how passionately Dairine “loves” babies.
One spectacular thing about the play is that nearly every character shines at least once on stage. Even the puppeteers performances weren’t lifeless and had a great role in the play, though their lines were gibberish. Their nonsensical babble is only appropriate since their characters are babies.
The play breaks the fourth wall (admitting that they are acting within the play) effectively without being too annoying about it. The Fourth Wall element reflects the silliness of the play though it is on a disgusting subject.
Although the play could be compared to South Park in terms of its material, it is not full of derogative terms or racial stereotypes like South Park, but is more reliant on Blazing Saddle like gags.
This play is great overall and I believe has a chance of being a decent hit for Adam Sharp. In my opinion, his “Fool on the Hill” plays were only okay as were many of the performances in them. In this play the actors performed superbly and the play material was engaging.
Since it is free for students, I think it is a shame if you pass by on a play that is better than many of the movies out right now.
Daniel Van Sickle is a senior majoring in Business Administration. You may contact him at Daniel.VanSickle@sckans.edu