How much will a person reveal to a complete stranger? The members of Generic Theatre Company sought an answer to this question in the aptly titled “Stranger” by Craig Lucas, and proved that they aren’t unfamiliar with the art of performance last weekend.
“Stranger,” Generic’s fourth production of the spring season, premiered Thursday night at Lisner Downstage and was directed by senior Lorna Mulvaney.
Mulvaney said she could not put the screenplay down when she first read it and knew she wanted to bring the production to GW.
“It’s such a dark and intense show,” sophomore Rachel Johnson, who plays Linda, said, “but [Mulvaney] was so great about keeping the atmosphere stress free.”
But to Mulvaney, there is much more to the show than its dark and violent plot.
“It’s more about the irreparable harm that people can do to one another and about trying to figure out what’s real and important to us,” Mulvaney said.
The show opens with a single spotlight on a flight stewardess, played by junior Michelle Loizeaux, speaking to passengers over a loudspeaker. The lights then shine on the rest of the set, bringing the leads of the show, Linda and Hush, into view as they take their seats on the plane.
Linda is portrayed as a frantic woman with no filter, talking through her terrible fear of flying. Hush, played by sophomore Nick Barbara, sits next to her as a calm and reserved man who seems taken aback by Linda’s antics. The stark contrast of the two personalities produces an immediate comedic effect.
The show quickly progresses as the two strangers get to know one another and reveal their deepest, darkest secrets. Both characters are searching for something that makes them feel human – Linda through her relationships with other people and Hush through his devout religious faith, Mulvaney said.
One of Mulvaney’s favorite parts of the production was seeing the audience’s reaction on opening night.
“It was really moving for me to watch everyone’s faces and to see how they connected to these people who seem like such not-relatable characters,” Mulvaney said.
To Johnson, the unusual characters in the show were one reason why she had so much fun being a part of the production. Her role as Linda was her first in a dramatic play with Generic – she has only performed in musicals until now.
“I was really glad to get the opportunity to act in such an intense and emotional role,” Johnson said.
Barbara’s performance as Hush also serves as his debut in a non-musical theater performance at GW. He said that Mulvaney’s directing made the play an overall amazing experience.
“Lorna directed it beautifully,” Barbara said. “This is just the best show I’ve ever been a part of.”
Sophomore Amanda Newman, the public relations director for 14th Grade Players, said she was so affected by the students’ performances that she was in shock when the lights dimmed on the final scene.
“The world that was created was so visceral and powerful, it took me a couple minutes to get back to reality,” Newman said.
It was the message in Lucas’ screenplay that attracted Mulvaney.
“I think everyone’s looking for that special connection that anchors them to the world. It’s really interesting to make the audience think about what makes us real,” Mulvaney said.