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By Meryl Gottlieb | | @buzzlightmeryl
The 68th Tony Awards, hosted by Hugh Jackman, will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Sunday, June 8 on CBS

hugh jackmanThe nominations for the 68th annual Tony Awards were held early Tuesday morning and were announced by Broadway babe Jonathan Groff and TV star Lucy Liu.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder leads with 10 nominations, followed by Hedwig and the Angry Inch with eight noms and After MidnightBeautiful: The Carole King MusicalThe Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night each garnering seven nominations. Other notable productions are The Cripple of Inishmaan with six nominations, Aladdin: The Musical with five and Rocky with four.

I suspect A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder will dominate the award show as Kinky Boots, Once and The Book of Mormon did in their respective years. I guess I’ll have to add it to my list of must-see shows for when I’m in NYC.

I haven’t heard much about Gentleman’s Guide so I can’t fairly assess the nominations, but I’m surprised that with all the buzz, Rocky didn’t make the top mark of a Best Musical nomination.

nph hedwig first look2I’m beyond thrilled to see some of my favorites up there: Neil Patrick  Harris, Sutton Foster, Audra McDonald and Kelli O’Hara. There’s no doubt in my mind that these are deserved nominations. As much as I love Idina Menzel, I have to question this nomination. I haven’t heard great things about If/ Then and am a bit surprised she is getting one of its two nominations. I hate to say it, but I feel this is more of a popularity vote because she is so high right now. Get ready for tons of Frozen jokes and “Let It Go” parodies.

The nominees in Best Revival of a Play are essentially dominating all of the other play categories — a section we can only hope is finally presented in a better way than usual.

The only snub I think worth mentioning is the absence of Cabaret in the Best Revival of a Musical category. I’m quite surprised by that one.

Lastly, my loudest initial thought is remorse over the fact that First Date was not nominated for anything. I know it was a long shot, but a girl can hope. First Date was quite possibly one of the best musical comedies I’ve ever seen. It should at least be recognized for its score.

What do you think of the nominations? Is your favorite show missing from the list? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl

Here is a full list of the nominees:

Best Play
Act One
All the Way
Casa Valentina
Mothers and Sons
Outside Mullingar

Best Musical
After Midnight
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Best Revival of a Play
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Glass Menagerie
A Raisin in the Sun
Twelfth Night

Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Les Miserables

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Samuel Barnett — Twelfth Night
Bryan Cranston — All the Way
Chris O’Dowd — Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance — Richard III
Tony Shalhoub — Act One

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Audra McDonald — Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Tyne Daly — Mothers and Sons
Estelle Parsons — The Velocity of Autumn
LaTanya Richardson Jackson — A Raisin in the Sun
Cherry Jones — The Glass Menagerie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Ramin Karimloo — Les Miserables
Neil Patrick Harris — Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Jefferson Mays — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Bryce Pinkham — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Andy Karl — Rocky

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Idina Menzel — If/Then
Mary Bridget Davis — A Night with Janice Joplin
Jessie Mueller — Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Kelli O’Hara — The Bridges of Madison County
Sutton Foster — Violet

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
Reed Birney — Casa Valentina
Paul Chahidi — Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry — Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance — Twelfth Night
Brian J. Smith — The Glass Menagerie

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Sarah Greene — The Cripple of Inishmaan
Celia Keenan-Bolger — The Glass Menagerie
Sophie Okonedo — A Raisin in the Sun
Mare Winningham — Casa Valentina
Anika Noni Rose — A Raisin in the Sun

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein — Cabaret
Nick Cordero — Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry — Violet
James Monroe Iglehart — Aladdin
Jarrod Spector — Beautiful

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Linda Emond  Cabaret
Lena Hall  Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Anika Larsen  Beautiful
Adriane Lenox  After Midnight
Lauren Worsham  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Book of a Musical
Chad Beguelin — Aladdin
Douglas McGrath — Beautiful
Woody Allen — Bullets Over Broadway
Robert L Freedman — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Best Score (“Music & Lyrics)
Jason Robert Brown — The Bridges of Madison County
Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey — If/Then
Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Alan Menken and Chad Beguelin — Aladdin

Best Director of a Musical
Warren Carlyle — After Midnight
Michael Mayer — Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leigh Silverman — Violet
Darko Tresnjak — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Director of a Play
Tim Carroll — Twelfth Night
Michael Grandage — The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kenny Leon — A Raisin in the Sun
John Tiffany — The Glass Menagerie

Best Choreography
Warren Carlyle — After Midnight
Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine — Rocky
Casey Nicholaw — Aladdin
Susan Stroman — Bullets Over Broadway

Best Orchestrations
Doug Besterman — Bullets Over Broadway
Jason Robert Brown — The Bridges of Madison County
Steve Sidwell — Beautiful
Jonathan Tunick — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Christopher Barreca — Rocky
Julian Crouch — Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Alexander Dodge — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Santo Loquasto — Bullets Over Broadway

Best Scenic Design of a Play
Beowulf Boritt — Act One
Bob Crowley — The Glass Menagerie
Es Devlin — Machinal
Christopher Oram — The Cripple of Inishmaan

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Linda Cho — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
William Ivey Long — Bullets Over Broadway
Arianne Phillips — Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Isabel Toledo — After Midnight

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams — Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Christopher Akerlind — Rocky
Howell Binkley — After Midnight
Donald Holder — The Bridges of Madison County

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable — The Cripple of Inishmaan
Jane Cox — Machinal
Natasha Katz — The Glass Menagerie
Japhy Weideman — Of Mice and Men

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski — After Midnight
Tim O’Heir — Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Mick Potter — Les Miserables
Brian Ronan — Beautiful

Best Sound Design of a Play
Alex Baranowski — The Cripple of Inishmaan
Steve Canyon Kennedy — Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Dan Moses Schreier — Act One
Matt Tierney — Machinal

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
Poor Bob by Anthony Ellison runs 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday
Rust on Bone by Bianca Sams runs 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday
Both shows are in the Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater in Kantner Hall
Readings will be done Thursday-Saturday
Free for OU students; $5 non-students
Rating: Poor Bob: 4/5
              Rust on Bone: 5/5

Junior Shambrion Treadwell (left) and graduate student Thomas Daniels (right) perform a scene in Rust on Bone.  (Alayna Steele | For The Post)

Junior Shambrion Treadwell (left) and graduate student Thomas Daniels (right) perform a scene in Rust on Bone. (Alayna Steele | For The Post)

I absolutely adore going to see the mainstage productions the Division of Theater produces each year. The actors, though they are simply students, perform at a professional level, the sets are mind-blowingly beautiful and it’s all for free! What’s not to like? But it’s one thing to see a revered play be put on by a renowned theater school. It’s another to see this same group produce an entirely new play that was written by one of their own.

And that’s what happens with the Seabury Quinn Jr. Playwrights’ Festival every year for the past two decades.

All of the graduate playwrights write an original piece as a final exam of sorts for a particular class. This year, two were chosen to be fully produced and the other seven are readings.

The two fully produced plays are Rust On Bone by Bianca Sams and Poor Bob by Anthony Ellison. Rust On Bone analyzes the effects of war and society’s perception of mental illness by following a therapist who is trapped in her office and must use her wit and skills to get out. Poor Bob is a comedy about a family struggling to properly grieve the death of a family member who was also a pillar in the community.

The plays are very different. There’s the obvious sense in which one is a comedy — Poor Bob — and the other is a drama, Rust on Bone. Then there’s also the sense in how each play functions. Poor Bob pulls you in with its frequent punchlines and comedy; Rust on Bone keeps your interests peaked with lasting moments of suspense. Both are great in their own right, but if you choose to only see one, I would suggest choosing Rust on Bone.

Rust on Bone manages to make every second count. I was enthralled in the storyline the entire time. It is just good drama. And it helps when you have an outstanding cast elevating the words. Thomas Daniels captivated me as Jim Daniels, the antagonist of sorts. The arc of that character is captivating and Daniels is a master at his craft. Shambrion Treadwell is a masterful lead; Sophie Mitchem’s performance as a tortured soul was chilling and was extraordinarily delivered; and Jessica Savitz was great as the sometimes much needed comedic relief.

Poor Bob was very good. It is told in a way that you have to pay attention because explanations are contained in several reveals throughout the show. It was a very interesting structure. However, there were some scenes that weren’t as interesting as others and some lull moments — moments I didn’t feel when I saw Rust on Bone. Poor Bob’s cast was very good, as I’ve found to be the norm in Division of Theater productions, but only one actor stood out: Emily Auwaerter as Sharna, the funeral home director. Her performance was zany, expressive and simply hilarious. She was my favorite to watch throughout the night.

So go check out the last week of the Playwrights’ Festival and see these shows for themselves! Just because they aren’t mainstage, it doesn’t mean they are well-written or amazingly produced.

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
As You Like It by William Shakespeare, directed by Shelley Delaney
8 p.m. March 26-29, April 2-5
The Forum Theater, Radio and Television Building

Orlando, played by Mbali Guliwe, proclaims his love for Rosalind as he hangs his prose all over the forest (Kaitlin Owens | Staff Photographer)

Orlando, played by Mbali Guliwe, proclaims his love for Rosalind as he hangs his prose all over the forest (Kaitlin Owens | Staff Photographer)

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

The Division of Theater rounds out its 2013-14 season with its production of As You Like It by William Shakespeare.

The play follows Rosalind (played by Kat Bramley), a duke’s daughter, who flees her uncle’s court after he usurps her father. With her cousin Celia (Chelsea Cannon) and the court jester Touchstone (Emilio Tirri) at her side, Rosalind finds safety — and love — in the Forest of Arden.

Every time I discuss Shakespeare, I fear people are apprehensive about joining the conversation and seeing his work performed on stage. Yes, his work has become so elevated in our society that many may be wary of approaching it, but as the director Shelley Delaney said, “As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible comedies.”

The play is easy to follow if you know these main points: Rosalind’s father Duke Senior was usurped by his younger brother Duke Frederick and forced to flee into the Forest of Arden. Celia is Duke Frederick’s daughter and is best friends with Rosalind. Rosalind is forced to flee into the forest and takes Celia and the court jester Touchstone with her. For protection, Rosalind disguises herself as a man in the forest. Her love, Orlando (played by Mbali Guliwe), was also forced to flee into the forest, so she takes the opportunity to test his love.

Take this cheat sheet and go forth. Give this play a try.

You may not be able to understand every line of every moment — there were plenty of times when I struggled — however things flow so smoothly and swiftly that the larger picture is painted quickly enough so that you know what is happening in each scene. Don’t fret if you miss or don’t understand something. I don’t feel anyone can truly understand every aspect of a Shakespeare play on only his or her first listen. Shakespeare is so renowned because of how richly deep his texts are, meaning continual analysis and reading of his work is required to fully appreciate it. Listen intently; this play is worth your attention.

I absolutely love the idea of “testing your love” to see if he or she truly loves you. Wouldn’t you jump at the chance to see if the one you’re madly in love with feels the same? Shakespeare is known for being able to tap into the human condition like no other. Here, he hits the nail on the head. You can have your tragic Romeo and Juliet love story, I’d much rather be a part of Orlando and Rosalind’s tale, for I feel their love is much more believable than the famed star-crossed lovers’. Rosalind tests Orlando, so that at the end of the play, you want these two to get together because you know their love is real. Romeo and Juliet just say they’re madly in love, but the skeptic in me finds it hard to believe you can simply see someone from across the room and fall in love. Love is about connection and understanding, not just looks. I believe Rosalind and Orlando have that, which is why I root for them.

Rosalind, in her male disguise of Ganymede, finds Orlando's declarations of his love for her (Kaitlin Owens | Staff Photographer)

Rosalind (Bramley), in her male disguise of Ganymede, finds Orlando’s declarations of his love for her (Kaitlin Owens | Staff Photographer)

The entire cast does a splendid job. Two stand outs amongst the entire ensemble are Bramley and Tirri. Kat Bramley as Rosalind carries the show and is simply spectacular as the protagonist. She speaks clearly, has an impeccable range of emotions and is a star of the production. Emilio Tirri shines like the sun as the source of comedy in the play. Tirri himself said Touchstone is “the clown” and, boy, does Tirri have fun with him. The physicality he brought to this character slays me. His side glances, prancing and sass make him a likely audience favorite. I also have to commend Chelsea Cannon for stealing the scene several times. Watch Cannon as she sits off to the side and gives her sassy reactions to the main action; they’re priceless. Maddie Davis is also a great source of comedy as she plays proud shepherdess Phebe, who is often too flirty for her own good.

As I’ve come to think custom of the Division of Theater productions, the set is absolutely stunning. Combining metal and wood, the set is what C. David Russell, the play’s set designer, said is a liminal space, or a place in transition. A tree’s roots hang from the center of the ceiling while the floor is made of wood planks and expanded steel mesh in order to give the audience the framework of the world so that they can fill in the middle for themselves. Tirri called the set “an adult’s playground,” and it’s easy to see why. The actors run around the ramps, hang on and off the rails and jump from level to level throughout the show. It is so beautiful to see how well incorporated the set is into the play. It’s hard to imagine how it could be staged any other way.

This production is also big on music. Duke Senior, Rosalind’s father, has his own band consisting of guitars, shakers and a hand drum. It’s an interesting concept added to the production that really helps continue the rapid pace of the play.

The play was sharply executed from all angles and proved to be a great note for the division to end its season on this year.

By Meryl Gottlieb | | @buzzlightmeryl
The 68th annual Tony Awards will air on CBS on June 8


Everything is coming up Tonys!

The award show is garnering attention after Variety reported the Tony Awards administration committee met last month and voted to allow the number of nominees in the Best Musical, Best Play, Best Musical Revival and Best Play Revival categories increase to five, rather than four nominees, if there are nine or more eligible shows to choose between. They also said if there are less than nine possible shows in a category, the number of nominees could be reduced to three. 

The list for contenders for the Best Musical award is extensive; there are 12 musicals that opened or are set to open during or before the eligibility period for this year’s Tonys. Those musicals are First Date, Soul Doctor, Big Fish, A Night with Janis Joplin, After Midnight, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murdei, Beautiful, The Bridges of Madison County, Rocky, Aladdin, If/Then and Bullets Over Broadway. Plus, there are the off-Broadway shows that feature prominent Broadway artists: Hedwig and the Angry Inch with Neil Patrick Harris and Violet featuring Sutton Foster.

In other words, there is going to be one HOT contest for the award this year. If you know me, you know I’m gunning for First Date but that’s just because I’m obsessed with Zachary Levi. But in all seriousness, it is also a great musical.

The 2013-2014 season also saw about a dozen play revivals, meaning that category will most likely see the increase. Those plays are: Romeo and Juliet, The Winslow Boy, The Snow Geese, Betrayal, Twelfth Night/Richard III, 700 Sundays, Macbeth, No Man’s Land/Waiting for Godot, Machinal, A Raisin in the Sun and Of Mice and Men.

What’s interesting is that though the new rule is in place, Variety said it may not mean nominators will select five musicals or plays for the respective categories.

Just like when the Oscars expanded its Best Picture nominations from five to 10, the Tonys’ move is simply another tool to recognize more material while also giving more time for Broadway to shine on-air to millions of viewers. The Tonys do an excellent job of enticing viewers to see the Best Musical nominees as each nominated show gets to perform a number. Having an extra nominee in the category will simply mean one more show will profit from the accolade of being a “Tony nominee,” which actually means something in the theater world and to the theater audience.

The eligibility cutoff date for this year’s Tonys is April 24 and the nominees will be announced on April 29.

What’s your favorite show currently on Broadway? Which new show are you looking forward to the most? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl (I love to chat theater, so, seriously, let me know.)

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
The 39 Steps directed by Dennis Delaney
8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 8 p.m. Feb. 25-27
Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater, Kantner Hall

Abraham Adams plays Richard Hannay who has just discovered the woman — played by Alycia Kunkle — he just met has been murdered. (Kaitlin Owens | Staff Photographer)

Abraham Adams plays Richard Hannay who has just discovered the woman — played by Alycia Kunkle — he just met has been murdered. (Kaitlin Owens | Staff Photographer)

Alfred Hitchcock is known as the master of suspense. He directed more than 50 films in six decades and is simply one of the most well known directors of Hollywood’s golden age.

But when you see the Division of Theater’s production of The 39 Steps, it isn’t like Hitchcock’s film. In fact, it is a farce of his work. There is still the mystery at its heart but the focus is on the comedy.

The 39 Steps follows Richard Hannay — played by Abraham Adams — a man who lives a very boring life until he meets a woman who is a spy. Hannay is then accused of murdering the woman and goes on the run to figure out the secret of “The 39 Steps.”

The show has dozens of characters but only a cast of four actors. Adams is the only one who plays the same role throughout the play, and he is certainly at home in the character. Alycia Kunkle plays all three female roles and exceeds more so in certain scenes than others but that’s more to the fault of the fact that women aren’t exactly as well developed characters in older films. Greg Atkin and Andy Danford then play everyone else, literally. They are called the “clowns” and play between 20 to 30 roles each.

These two actors are the source for the majority of the comedy in the play; they are a great comedic duo. Atkin dresses in drag to play several women, and it always lends itself to big laughs. Atkin’s great sense of comedic timing is often highlighted and is a great actor to follow throughout the play. Danford is a master of the outlandish characters with big personalities. “#BestActorEver,” yes, they even incorporate today’s latest Twitter trends into the 1930s set play.

Greg Atkin and Andy Danford, the clowns, are police officers in their "police car." (Kaitlin Owens | Staff Photographer)

Greg Atkin and Andy Danford, the clowns, are police officers in their “police car.” (Kaitlin Owens | Staff Photographer)

It’s important to remember the play is an adaptation by Patrick Barlow of the Hitchcock film, which is based off the book by John Buchan. Many times throughout the play, it felt like a film. There are some 30 scenes that all zip by, a feat that is much easier to tackle and more natural in a film than a play. It often felt more like a play trying to be a film than a solid adaptation for the stage.

The play is also essentially a cut-and-paste version of the film, which is featured in its entirety on YouTube. The only main difference is, obviously, the nature of each media: the film, a dramatic thriller, treats the mystery as serious while the play, a comedy, pokes fun at the situation.

The show is quite minimalist, which is exemplified best in its costumes and scenery. Three trunks can represent the train cars while a simple switch of a hat transforms an actor from a salesman to a paperboy. Much of the play is left up to the audience’s imagination.

Oftentimes, the minimalist nature is the source for the play’s comedy. It is simply the “magic” of live theater that is the only explanation for how this works. These techniques would never work in any other medium than theater.

Throughout the show, there were certain moments in which I couldn’t tell if the people attending media night were laughing because of a calculated decision for a sound cue or because it was a mistake they hadn’t anticipated. Media night does not count as an official show and some kinks are still being worked out, but a few sound and lighting cues were missed and distracted from the show. Due to the play’s farcical nature, I couldn’t tell if they were actual mess-ups or a comedic tool that broke the fourth wall but didn’t translate well. It didn’t happen a lot, but when it did, it was distracting. Even with the mistakes, the actors kept running and tied them into the show. Thus, their great sense for going with the flow is what caused my confusion about whether or not certain aspects were mistakes or not.

Overall, I enjoyed the play. I was continually laughing and was entertained for the two and a half hour show — includes intermission. I would definitely recommend seeing it if not only for the Rear Window joke which had me on the floor.

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
Swimming in the Shallows by Adam Bock, directed by David Haugen
8 p.m. Oct. 30-Nov. 2, Nov. 6-9
Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater, Kantner Hall

The cast of 'Swimming in the Shallows' poses for an imaginary wedding photo (Laura Winegar | For The Post)

The cast of ‘Swimming in the Shallows’ poses for an imaginary wedding photo (Laura Winegar | For The Post)

The Division of Theater has a thing for shows featuring water-related storylines this semester. The first mainstage production, Metamorphoses, was set in a pool, and one of the principal characters in the latest play is a shark.

Swimming in the Shallows follows three relationships at their pivotal points: A heterosexual older couple may have grown too far apart, a lesbian couple wonders whether or not they should take the next step and marry, and the last couple has just fallen in love and is interspecies.

I’m sure that last line through you, but yes, there is a relationship between two different species — a man and a shark.

If that seems hard to buy, trust me, it kind of is. I understand it’s “the theater” and you sometimes need to check reality at the door, but the initial interactions in this relationship come off as far too unrealistic and made me take a step back from the show.

The shark, played by Alex Nicosia, and Nick, played by Patrick Wagstaff, embrace (Laura Winegar | For The Post)

The shark, played by Alex Nicosia, and Nick, played by Patrick Wagstaff, embrace for the first time (Laura Winegar | For The Post)

Nick is often too promiscuous so he tries to take it slow once he falls in love. Nick falls for the shark after seeing it in the aquarium. I understand this is surrealism, but it took some getting used to the fact that this relationship was actually happening and no other character found it strange that their friend was in love with a mako shark.

I will say, though, that I think I enjoyed Nick’s, played by Patrick Wagstaff, performance the most. From the moment he stepped on stage to the realistic interactions he has with the other characters to even the rollercoaster of emotions he experiences as he falls in love, Nick is clearly the most well-developed character.

The lesbian couple, Carla Carla and Donna, struggle with the decision about whether or not they should marry. One thing the show’s director, David Haugen, pointed out to me was that Shallows doesn’t emphasize the fact that two of the couples are same-sex. Their relationships are treated just the same as a typical relationship. I definitely enjoyed that.

Carla Carla and Donna’s storyline mostly dealt with the issues they faced in trying to get to the altar. Carla Carla doesn’t like that Donna smokes. Donna wants a smaller wedding while Carla Carla wants something bigger where people can dance at the end. There’s no dialogue discussing the fact that these are two women. Their homosexuality is not the defining characteristic of their relationship, and that’s refreshing. This storyline would have gotten very old, very fast had it focused on their sexuality and not the issues people actually face when deciding on whether or not to marry.

The heterosexual couple, Barb and Bob, butt heads as Barb leans toward Buddhism and increasingly wants a more simplistic life — like only owning eight items — while Bob continually buys new things.

In the beginning, the monologues about this relationship were well written and somewhat thought provoking  — especially about “feeling heavy” from all the things you own — yet they had much less of an effect because they were monologues.

We do not see Bob actually come on stage for quite some time, and even then, he’s not on stage for more than two or three scenes. Barb’s struggle to find happiness is interesting, but I felt no emotional connection to her situation until she and Bob argued onstage and came to a conclusion of sorts. That dialogue stirred more emotions than any of her monologues, which on their own eventually became somewhat whiny.

Probably one of the worst things going for the show is the god-awful accents used — a thick northeastern accent. There is no specific setting mentioned. There is no need to make these actors sound like this. It’s simply distracting and, quite frankly, annoying. Worst of all, there was no way you could tell the difference when someone said, “Barb” versus “Bob.” The “ar” and “o” both became “aaahhhh,” and it was a nightmare.

Nick [Patrick Wagstaff], Carla Carla [Jessica Savitz] and Donna [Michelle Fink] cower from Barb [Lisa Bol] (Laura Winegar | For The Post)

Nick [Patrick Wagstaff], Carla Carla [Jessica Savitz] and Donna [Michelle Fink] cower from Barb [Lisa Bol] (Laura Winegar | For The Post)

Swimming in the Shallows is a comedy and it will actually make you laugh. It won’t win a Pulitzer or Tony for its book, but you will laugh at several moments in the show. Some of those moments may occur because of how absurd the scene is or simply because of the dialogue, but you will genuinely laugh several times throughout the night.

As Haugen told me, the scenes in this play are much shorter in comparison to that of a standard play. Thus, I think there was quite a deficiency in character arcs and background as well as in accessibility to the audience. Anyone who is in a relationship can relate to the struggles each different type of relationship in the play faced, but on an individual level, the characters themselves still need some work and development.

Aside from the play, there are some scenery aspects to take note of when seeing the show. The show’s stage has been transformed into a marina deck that comes out into the middle of the audience. As always, the set is beautiful and I’m in awe of how spectacular the Division of Theater shows always have such amazing sets.

The show is set against a projection screen that frequently shows clips of Alex Nicosia, who plays the shark, swimming in his supposed tank. The screen is also used to title the scene changes.

Another multimedia element used in the show is live music. Garrett Hood, a production design student, composed music to perform throughout the play. The show begins with a go-go-esque dance sequence in which the live music is used very well, but often times, the music was used as a transitional element between scenes and seemed a bit awkward.

Overall, I have to say I didn’t enjoy the play entirely yet I didn’t detest it. There were several moments in which I found myself a bit bored, and then there was the opposite moments when I was cracking up. I enjoy the themes the play discussed, but while the overall story is interesting and brings up good ideas, the play can often fail while in the moment.