UVM Department of Theatre
Wednesday evening, Sept. 26, I attended the opening performance of the UVM Department of Theatre's first show of the year, Donald Margulies's Found a Peanut.
In his director's notes, Gregory Ramos states: "In order to fuel our production with a theatrical tension, we moved the original date indicated in the script from 1962 to 1964. In the two short years between those dates, the cultural landscape of America changed from the vestiges of the Eisenhower era to the early signs of the cultural revolution. ... Character motivations in our production are informed by the fact that the children in the play are growing up in a rapidly changing world on a theme, I believe, that current audiences can identify with."
I quote Ramos to that extent because it seems to me that (a) it is a subtlety lost on the audience, even for those parts of the audience who were alive then; and, (b) the play stands on its own two feet without that change. It is a play about the tension between good and evil, if you want to reduce it to its common denominator. If it helped the students that is well and good, but if it was thought that there was some weakness in the play itself and I share that thought then why choose this play? Structurally the play seemed to move too slowly initially towards its climax and then to race once it had been reached. Margulies did not let us see how the children reflected what they had been taught by the adults around them... The actors really didn't get a chance to examine core human experience which is as old as Adam and Eve or Cain and Abel. And then there is the offstage child who seems to be the focus of everyone's attention.