The first main show of the school year, “The Antipodes,” began its nine-show run Friday at the Berrie Center. The play is directed by Dara Malina, adjunct drama professor at Ramapo, and is written by 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner Annie Baker.
“The Antipodes” revolves around a group of eight co-workers who visibly collaborate in a writer’s bedroom, trying to come up with the next big TV show or movie idea, even if it’s never explicitly stated. The audience sees these people seated around a large, shiny conference room table sharing story after story with various snack breaks, reveals and epiphanies sprinkled throughout.
Throughout the show, everyone in the room is emotionally tapped, having to share personal stories to drive the show forward. But what are the rules? Is there? And what is a “good” story? What are these colleagues looking for? What follows is monstrous. These writers may have once been in search of a great story, but end up living in it.
The show has audience members wondering if they have any good stories to share and how they would answer some of the questions posed to these writers. Could I have the next big idea? And how is something chosen as good versus bad? This show explores the many questions we have around life through storytelling and leaves some questions open to interpretation.
Some performers stand out in their roles, including Reese Pasquarello, a sophomore theater student specializing in directing and stage management who plays Sandy, the boss and executive director of this writing project. Sandy is blatant in what he wants to achieve, but also gives his employees the creative freedom to come up with any of their own ideas.
In addition to Pasquarello, Claudia Hastings, a theater major with a theater concentration, plays Sarah. Sarah is Sandy’s receptionist who, throughout the play, seems eager to answer anyone’s questions, but she is usually only seen taking lunch orders or restocking seltzers. Luckily, later in the series, she too shares some great stories that reveal some of her own character development.
Towards the end of the show, it’s implied that even in dark times, stories are the things that will get us through. Stories can help discover the next big thing in the world of film or television or they can be ghost stories shared over a campfire with friends. They might even bring these writers through the many hours they spent working together.
“The Antipodes” will make you, as a viewer, wonder if any of your own stories could fit those horrific circumstances these writers were looking for. I would recommend seeing this show while you can as it ends on October 29th. While it may leave you with more questions than answers, this is a show that will have you pausing and critically analyzing your own life and the stories you may want to share.
Photo courtesy of Mason Murphy.