By Cassie Osvatics
Three large pieces of wall, three desks, three chairs and a lamp: the contents of the set for The Schooling of Bento Bonchev. Combined with some stunning projections, this assembly of knowledge and craft presents 43 scenes in under an hour and a half, making for an incredibly unique performance from director Yury Urnov, The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, and The Clarice.
The show opened for only the third production ever on Friday, May 28 in the Kogod Theatre. Within a few moments of sitting down to watch the play, the audience is quickly drawn in by the projection of the main character Bento, played by senior theatre performance major Alex Beveridge. In this projection, Bento is old and seems to be reflecting back on his life’s work.
The script, written by Maksym Kurochkin and translated by John Freedman, is witty with subtle hilarity. It’s one of those pieces that stands alone as a great theatrical work. What sends the play over the top, however, is the way in which TDPS presented it and the talented actors who worked so hard to interpret it in a way that keeps the audience engaged.
“I thought they did a really good job of keeping the transitions interesting with such short scenes that change so quickly,” said Montana Monardes, an actor, junior theater major and the co-artistic director of Kreativity. “I thought they were able to do a lot with a small set.”
Not only is the play a technically difficult one, but it is also fairly unusual in the way that it presents love and sex.
“There’s been a lot of art that’s dealt with betraying relationships, love and sexuality in a modern era, but this play was able to tackle the subject while still maintaining a fresh outlook,” said Stephen Meyer, a senior English and computer science major, minoring in creative writing.
Meyer praised the performance of such a unique script. “Obviously the production values were very good, but I especially liked how the actors, particularly the lead actor, was able to flesh out the source material with their characterizations.”
Within that source material is a great deal of satire. During a previous interview with The Writer’s Bloc, Beveridge explained the play was written in the context of the “political revolution of Russia and how people were so sure that communism was the end all be all and then as soon as they realized there was a better way they scorned the past.”
Beveridge went on to explain how this relates to the political climate in the U.S., using the example of homophobia and transphobia, saying that “people are still against it because they don’t want to let go of what they have come to their own conclusion about … I’m sure Bento knows that his philosophy is wrong, he actually inhabits a lot of compulsive lying in trying to keep up his philosophy.”
Beveridge executes these moments with subtle comedy, moments that Monardes says “keep it interesting, especially when there is a lot of tension going on the entire time.”
The Schooling of Bento Bonchev will run through until Saturday, May 6, and tickets are available here.
Featued Photo Credit: Senior theatre performance major Alex Beveridge performs as Bento during a dress rehearsal for The Schooling of Bento Bonchev in the Kogod Theatre of The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Cassie Osvatics is a senior English major and can be reached at email@example.com.