Production of ‘The Thugs’ suffers from static performances

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Author: Jeremy Childs

Adam Bock’s play “The Thugs” ran its course on the stage of Keck Theater this past weekend, exploring the characters’ panic after they get stuck in a building plagued by mysterious deaths. Written in the aftermath of 9/11, the play poses the question of how people react in crisis situations.

The hour-long show is set within the confines of a tiny law agency. The temps, condemned to reading endless case briefs, have their placid world shaken up when a murderer is rumored to be inside their building. As gossip spreads and tension builds, a blackout hits and the attacker strikes, leaving the viewer with more questions than answers.

By far one of the show’s highlights was the fantastic lighting design by theater major Reza Vojdani (senior). The eerie, flickering fluorescent bulbs and rolling storm clouds created an atmosphere of tension throughout the production.

Unfortunately, the advanced stage production was overshadowed by an unremarkable cast. Two stand-out performers managed to carry the show: theater major Lily Jackson (junior) delivered a commendable performance as the high-strung Mercedes; in one of the play’s most gripping scenes, politics major Griffin Taylor (junior) stole the show as Joey, a controlling and abusive boyfriend who drops by the office to deliver a critical message.

The play suffered other drawbacks along with the lackluster casting. Much of the dialogue lacked substance, several of the characters were left undeveloped and the plot was less than compelling. In addition, the thematic context of 9/11 was never made apparent during the actual show. The lack of context was in part due to the anachronistic set and costume design, which looked more like something out of “Mad Men” than anything in the 21st century.

Overall the play was a disappointing start to the new season of Occidental theater.

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