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This past week, the Clemson Players put on their 2nd performance of the year, “Cast/Miscast” in which a group of college theatre students, while waiting for their professor to show up to class, work through some monologues and prep for auditions with each other.

The actual play itself was devised by the cast alongside the directors with each monologue pulled from published plays (that they cited in the programs). It’s an ambitious and creative piece by the Clemson Players.

As someone who has a couple of years of theatrical experience, I know just how hard it can be to act out natural interactions, especially in a classroom setting. That being said, I’ve also seen it done well, and the Clemson Players were a bit shy of that line this time. 

The premise of the show is simple and intriguing. While waiting for their professor, these theatre students decide to put in a little extra work and perform the various monologues they’ve been working on in front of each other. As the show goes on, the students grow closer the more their choices of monologues reveal about themselves.

The monologues themself were quite impressive. Each actor performed 2 across the show, along with a monologue from “Romeo and Juliet” where they all take turns speaking. The Romeo and Juliet scene in particular was very entertaining.

As we’ve seen from their earlier production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” The Clemson Players can tackle Shakespeare with expertise, but the blocking and lighting included made for an impactful delivery.

Individually, actors Daniela La Ferrara and Liam Donley caught most of my attention. Both had my favorite monologue performances. La Ferrara performed a piece called “Dark Place” by Joseph Arnone and Donley performed a piece titled “Tigers Be Still” by Kim Rosenstock.

Alongside these wonderful monologue deliveries, they were the only 2 actors who I felt captured the natural classroom setting outside of their monologuing.

On that note, I do have to give my rather disappointing thoughts on some aspects of the play. The moments in between the monologues were rarely anything other than awkward and forced. Conversations had odd pacing, certain lines fell flat and overall and the ‘theatrical versions’ of the actors felt more like confused caricatures. The fact that it feels appropriate to call the cast-written portion the ‘in-betweens’ alone is telling of the difference in execution.

At points, I wasn’t able to tell what was scripted and what were ad-libs from the cast. It felt like they tried to constantly add in a phrase or two to bring everything down to earth rather than simply acting naturally. 

Overall, this show didn’t catch my interest as much as their previous performances had. The simple feat of collaborating to write a show is impressive, but I would be remiss if I didn’t critique their attempt out of respect.

The Clemson Players have put on great works before and will continue to put on even grander shows, and “Cast/Miscast” just so happens to fall in between as impressive in concept, questionable in execution.

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