The Bates Student - November 6, 1998


Production of Neil Simon's "Chapter Two" a success

Style Editor

A writer struggles to cope with the recent death of his wife. His matchmaking brother sets him up with a lively actress. In Neil Simon's play, "Chapter Two," directed by Jonathan Adler '00, George Schneider and Jennie Malone attempt to overcome their memories of the past and embrace an exciting new romance.

"Chapter Two," based in part on Simon's life, was performed in October during Back to Bates weekend. A Robinson Players production, it featured John Stockwell Payne '01 as George Schneider, John Ambrosino '01 as George's brother Leo Schneider, Emily Pritchard '00 as Jennie Malone, and Julie Shadford '01 as Faye Medwick, Jennie's vivacious best friend.

I saw the play on Friday night, October 16th, and was impressed with the performances given by the actors. They were all convincing in their roles, keeping the audience laughing at their antics while lamenting their troubles.

John Payne and Emily Pritchard were especially mesmerizing in their performances; both captured the spirits of their characters in portraying the emotions and upheavals accompanying their whirlwind romance.

The audience certainly responded well to the performance- many characterized it as one of the best plays they had seen at Bates. Although the audience was not as big as he would have liked, director Jon Adler felt that the reception from those who did come was overwhelming. "The play really got to people," he said. "It was a quality script and a quality cast whose on- stage chemistry and energy really fed into the audience."

Adler had been preparing for this play since last spring. He chose the comic drama because he believed Neil Simon's reputation as a Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner would appeal to a number of people. He also chose one of Simon's play because they are both funny and serious; you laugh at the characters but at the same time gain real insight into their personalities.

The four actors, chosen from auditions held during short term, received their scripts over the summer.

Adler said that, as a director, he is process- oriented, concerned with preparing for the performance, not focused solely on the final product. Because most of the cast members had not previously known each other, Adler sought to build a level of trust and comfort among them, mainly through improv exercises and discussions about cast dynamics

The cast members not only had to prepare for the play by mastering the script, but they also had to do much of the technical work. Because the Robinson Players is a student- run theater group, it is independent of the theater department. The cast mostly had to rely on themselves- they were given only the theater, lights, and wood. On just a $500 budget, they built and painted the sets.

Adler noted that in general, campus support for theater is good. Charging admission does hurt the audience but given the funding, it is needed to do the plays. As Adler, who hopes to direct another play next year, said, "Audiences are generally good and enthusiastic and that is what's important."

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Last Modified: 11/08/1998
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