As the Hilltop enjoys the transition from winter to spring, Will Eno’s The Flu Season arrives in the Walsh Black Box at a fitting time. Nomadic Theatre’s Robert Duffley (COL ’13) directs The Flu Season, with Diane Giangreco (COL ’13) producing. Having opened last night, the production runs through Saturday in Walsh.
The play opens with the disconcerting proposition that it does not have to happen, and closes with the assertion that it did not. The Flu Season revolves around the construction and deconstruction of writing, the scenes with both the human manifestation of Prologue, played by Allie Villarreal (COL ’12), and Epilogue, played by Amelia Powell (COL ’12). The two serve as commentators for a story that plays out in a “hospital of sorts,” with Villarreal preparing the audience with her fierce yet gullible meanderings, and Powell often repeating her opposite’s lines with a sincere sense of what is to come.
The play’s fixation on dualities is emphasized by the mechanics of the stage, which is split in half for the majority of the action. The “hospital of sorts,” is occupied by a cast of crazies. Danny Sullivan (MSB ’14), delicately interprets his character, Man, to be manic, and Woman, played by Lily Kaiser (COL ’12), suggests a deep sense of depression. Both successfully present themselves with a heavy dose of confusion, a magnified reflection of the intricate web that is playwriting.
Accompanying these head cases are the dapper Doctor, played by Brendan Quinn (COL ’14), and Vivian Cook‘s (COL ’13) inanely reflective Nurse, who cuts into scenes with a touch of lunacy by stating out-of-the-blue, fragmented phrases. Quinn’s awkward Doctor manages to further capture the sense of absurdity with pompously laughed-off injuries, while Cook’s Nurse draws on esoteric stories of previous loves. As these two slowly bind themselves together, they parallel the ebbing and flowing relationship between Sullivan’s Man and Kaiser’s Woman.
The cast, along with the director and producer, assemble a serious, sad, and slightly humorous play. There are scenes of near-hallucination and nonsense to balance out the dimly lit realizations of love. The Flu Season, in full production and outfit, delivers an investigative construction and a smug deconstruction of itself. The Flu Season is a play of timelessness, of time constraints, of dark times, and of good times. Hats off to the cast for managing to successfully question their own existence as the elements of a play, and bravo to the crew for constructing what can only be described as a complete enigma.
Photo: Richard J. De La Paz