“Scapin” playing this weekend at Washburn

Nicholas Birdsong / Washburn Review

Comedy came to the stage last weekend, courtesy of the Washburn theater department with performances of “Scapin.”

The play debuted last weekend with a strikingly unexpected introduction, when a perturbed stage manager loudly informed the audience that the cast was late for the show. Actors slowly trickled on stage and it was revealed that the cast was just playing the first of many jokes.

The play “Scapin” is an adaptation of a 17th century comedy about a trouble making servant named Scapin, who plays tricks on two neighboring families.

“The plot is simple and straightforward,” said Paul Prece, the play’s director and Washburn theater professor. “The characters find their bases in stereotypes. Miserly fathers object to the marriage of their children. Mistaken identities and misunderstandings are tangled and unwoven by the trickery and confusion created by the servants of both households until a happy conclusion is reached.”

Adaptations to the original could be seen interwoven throughout the play.  Several contemporary references were made, such as when one of the characters quoted popular movie lines and when the cast poked fun at the governor’s policy regarding public arts funding.

“It was really an interesting adaptation of Molliere’s original play,” said Sanford Pomerantz, Washburn student and audience member. “It was interesting, bringing in local things, especially Brownback.”

The play made ample use of a strategy known as breaking down the fourth wall when actors directly addressed the audience for comedic effect. At one point, an actor held up a sign with “exposition” written on it while another actor engaged in an exposition explaining the setting for the play.

The performance of “Scapin” is the latest in a series of plays presented by the theater department that are designed to reflect a cross-section through world theatrical history. Different types of plays will be represented throughout the year with this latest installment, having been adapted from the 17th century work by French playwright Moliere.

“Offering performances from various genres and in differing styles representative of different eras allows student participants and audiences [to] experience the variety,” said Prece. “Moliere’s comedy requires dexterity and comic style and timing on the part of actors, so it is an exercise in playing style.”

Performances of “Scapin” will come back on Nov. 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Garvey Fine Arts Center. Students, faculty and staff are admitted free with Washburn ID. General admission is $8. Tickets will be available one hour prior to performance at the theater’s box office.