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Romance Worth It for the Laughs

Josef Kuhn | Friday, October 10, 2008

Do not be deceived by the title. The play “Romance” is anything but one.

This Friday and Saturday night, at 7:30 in Washington Hall, the St. Edward’s Hall Players will be performing the play “Romance” by David Mamet. The title of the play must be one of those intentionally ironic misnomers, like nicknaming a 300-pound linebacker “Tiny.” The play is a blistering and brash comedic farce, but underneath the humor it raises serious questions about justice, prejudice and the difficulty of human relations.

The plot centers around a court trial that seems pretty typical at first, but as the play goes on the trial sinks further and further into disorder and madness. The colorful cast of characters includes a sneaky Jewish chiropractor, a drugged-up judge, a WASP-ish defense attorney, a gay prosecuting attorney and his emotionally unstable boyfriend. The eclectic mix makes for plentiful hilarious clashes and confrontations. Don’t laugh too long, though, or you’ll miss the next punch line; the play lays them on fast and thick.

Warning: Do not take your grandma to this play. Also, do not see this play if you are easily offended by crude language or racial slurs. Don’t worry about being singled out, though; Mamet is an equal opportunity slanderer, in the fashion of Carlos Mencia (but much funnier.)

While the play can be enjoyed for its shock value alone, “Romance” explores deeper thematic issues as well. It challenges the viewer’s conception of justice, asking if there is anyone who is really innocent or fit to condemn others. It also looks at the nature of prejudice and tries to figure out if there is any way around strife and discord in human relations, on both the personal and the national level. Nothing is forced or heavy-handed about the play, though; without thinking a little bit, a viewer could easily get caught up in the farce and completely miss the deeper meaning.

The St. Edward’s Hall Players do a great job of getting into their parts. They really couldn’t have been cast more perfectly. Under the direction of Saint Mary’s College senior Lauren Mangiaforte, the play runs like a professional performance. And at only about an hour long, you’ll still have plenty of time to go out afterwards. So whether you’re the philosophical type or you just want to grab a few laughs, come out and see Romance this weekend.