Friday, September 23, 2011

'This' play examines life at 40

Director Susanna Rinehart says she picked the play because of the humor, word play and real-life aspects

Alexis Baker plays Jane and Kristian Yelverton plays Marrell in

Alexis Baker plays Jane and Kristian Yelverton plays Marrell in "This," a play being performed at Virginia Tech's Squires Studio Theatre.

Alexis Baker plays Jane and Mikey Perry plays Tom in

Alexis Baker plays Jane and Mikey Perry plays Tom in "This," a play by Melissa James Gibson.

Jason Tolbert plays Jean-Pierre and Cody Oher plays Alan in this performance about five adults, all approaching the age of 40, and the challenges life throws at them.

Jason Tolbert plays Jean-Pierre and Cody Oher plays Alan in this performance about five adults, all approaching the age of 40, and the challenges life throws at them.

BLACKSBURG — "What is each person's 'this'?"

That's the question aptly-titled "This," a new play performed by a cast of five Virginia Tech students.

The play examines the lives of a close-knit group of aging adults as they contemplate the meaning of their existence.

The play premiered Wednesday in Tech's Squires Studio Theatre in front of a full house, according to the play's director, Susanna Rinehart.

Performances will continue intermittently through Oct. 4.

"The audience absolutely rode the wave/rollercoaster from belly laughs to the more serious moments, and back again," Rinehart said about Wednesday's premiere.

Set in New York, "This" centers around the lives of five adults, all approaching the age of 40. Four of the adults are longtime friends, whom are attempting to "stay sane" in the face of death, parenthood, adultery and middle age. A fifth character, a French man who works for Doctors Without Borders, is introduced to the group and gives them new, fresh perspectives on their lives.

Rinehart, who joined the Tech Theatre faculty in 1999, said she was drawn to the play because of its playwright, Melissa James Gibson.

Rinehart said she was attracted to Gibson's play on words, her humor and how "she's able to incorporate everyday life experiences" into her work.

"She really gives us an understanding of how complicated human beings are at any given moment," Rinehart said.

Grounded in realism, Rinehart said, the play mixes humor — one character has total recall memory — with more serious issues "we all experience in our day-to-day lives."

The play will continue Sept. 24, Sept. 27 through Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 through Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. There will be matinee performances Sept. 24 and 25 and Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students and seniors.

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