It seemed fitting that EMU’s homecoming play should, just like the spirit of homecoming, deal with the exploration of both the past and future as the university’s theatre department opened Eric Overmyer’s “On the Verge” last Friday.
“On the Verge” follows three Victorian age explorers: Fanny, Mary, and Alexandra, as they embark on an expedition to explore “Terra Incognita,” a new or unexplored land. However, as the play progresses, the three women begin to realize that they are actually traveling forward through time from 1888 all the way to the 1950s.
The performance was the most elaborate play I have seen produced at EMU. The set, costuming, and props were simply phenomenal. The cos- tumes covered everything from Victorian trekking gear to cocktail dresses to a yeti. The set was, for lack of a better description, a playground. It had climbing bars, a slide, a rope-bridge, a snow distributor, and even a zip-line that the actors used to fly onto set.
“Since the set would have proved to be dangerous to maneuver with a script in hand, we couldn’t have the set put in until after we were completely off-book,” said First-Year student Bethany Chupp. “We ended up working on the set for about a week or two. During the majority of the rehearsal process, the set was taped out on the floor, with labels dictating the height of each platform…I was already in the mindset of standing on a 10 foot platform, even though I had never placed a foot on it until two weeks before the show opened.”
While Chupp has had previous acting experience in high school, she made her debut at EMU as the charac- ter Fanny.
“Fanny has been a terrific character to portray. She goes on an incredible journey through the course of the play, from a place of confidence in her beliefs, to a crisis of facing the future, to becoming confident again with her place in life. The second act proves to be a ‘coming-out’ of sorts for Fanny, as she comes to term with passionate emotions that she has suppressed up to that point.”
Also joining the cast was first-year student Sara Caitlin Neubert (Mary), as well as returning actor Sophomore Meggan Garcia Sheridan as Alexandra.
“Alex, to me, is like an open book,” Sheridan commented when asked about her character. “She is open with her views with the other two women… I sometimes think she can be a bit like a ‘child,’ as Fanny pointed out in the play, but she is more adventurous than childish and she puts herself out there without hesitation.”
Also returning to the EMU stage was Junior Chris Parks, who was given the daunting challenge of acting in eight different roles throughout the performance; portraying a cannibal, Fanny’s husband Grover, a yeti, a bridge troll, Mr. Coffee, the psychic Madam Nhu, Gus the gas pumper, and night club owner Nicky Paradise.
“My favorite part of the production was using the set: going down the zip line, the slide, and crossing the rope bridge,” said Sheridan.
“That and seeing Chris Parks in a yeti outfit, even though he hates it.”
The show ran from Oct. 11 through 16 and hosted five performances.
“I think one of the overlying messages in this play is an encouragement to be open to change, and to grow as a result of that change,” said Chupp in closing.
“Fanny, Alex, and Mary take an incredible journey and learn remarkable things about themselves and about the world they live in – whether in 1888 or 1955.
“I will take away from this production a new appreciation for modern technology, but also a greater appreciation for the unique aspects of history – the moments that made each era special to those who lived in it.”
-Michael Bodner, News Co-Editor; photo credit, Colt Duttweiler