Freshmen play stays serious while provides comic relief


The cast of the 2018-2019 Freshman Play performing their epic finale

Zoe Tseng, Staff Writer

Sometimes you need to let go of something because it’s weighing you down, but some things are worth fighting for; especially family. At the Marlow Little Big Top Circus, this particular family is a troupe of performers facing bankruptcy.

The freshmen play, “Under the Big Top,” written by Martin Follose and directed by Elena Maimonis, is what you would expect a play named after the circus to deliver. It’s full of clowns, shiny costumes, popcorn, and humor, but yet it still captures the dire problem of the circus going bankrupt while maintaining focus on the bonds of family and perhaps love.

Despite the threat from the bank to foreclose the circus, Mr. Marlow (Max Jepsen), remains undeterred and convinces his company to stay for one last performance in hopes of raising enough money to stay in business. But as luck would have it, Mr. Marlow’s last savings go missing and the company must search for the money.

The comical ineptness of the circus performers not being able to complete their feat shows just how much trouble the circus is in. From David Copperflood (Carmen Mears), the magician who is too claustrophobic to escape a box, to trapeze artists Dipsey (Grace Harriet Thompson) and Slipsey (Zoe Mack)  who can only perform their acts three feet off the ground, it’s clear the circus needs a miracle to save it.

Like father like daughter, Mr. Marlow’s strong morals and optimism in saving the circus are mirrored on his bright daughter, Peggy Marlow (Sammy Yee). The contrast between Peggy’s jeans and white sweater with everyone else’s crazy patterned, and colorful costumes, show her fair-minded personality. Her emotion-ridden lines are persuasive enough for the audience to want to prevent the circus from going under. Yee embraces her character’s feelings of despair to help the troupe unite in fear of losing not just their jobs, but each other.

And if things weren’t already complicated enough, Peggy inadvertently falls for the banker’s son Bryce Hawkins (Kiko Lancastre). Bryce does not aspire to become the business man his father wants him to be, instead he wants to become a clown. His colorfully tiled converse and wide clown grin allow for him to easily fit in with the circus, causing him to see that the circus isn’t just a show, it’s a community.

When farmer girl Betsy Buckman (Vienna Revis) with her rosy cheeks, cowgirl boots, and braided hair, decides she wants a change of scenery from the Texas countryside, she literally “runs off to join the circus.” Her sweet southern accent and cheeriness remind the performers why they joined the circus in the first place. It wasn’t because of the money, it was because it was a place of excitement and belonging.

Perhaps the funniest character was Betsy’s boyfriend Buster Buster (Spencer Park), who had a deep southern accent and wore a cowboy outfit with dirt smeared on his face. Buster Buster’s character was not your typical wild-west cowboy. He was quite the opposite with his not so rough and tumble personality. His presence on stage easily got a laugh out of the audience for his inability to care for his girlfriend whom he wanted to please so badly. He quickly learned that getting Betsy a cow dressed up as a reindeer would not suffice for Christmas.

Buster Buster wasn’t the only comic relief. The two clowns Wrinkles (Charles Long) and Crinkles (Billy Dickerman) , did not speak throughout the play, so all of their conversations were a hysterical game of charades. The clowns were the only circus performers who did not lack apparent skill in their profession; their facial expressions and mining were always on point.

From the musical riffs mimicking the “Pink Panther” and “Penguins of Madagascar” soundtracks, as well as the engaging choreographed dances, there was no lull in the play.

In the end, what happened under the big top was more about fighting for one another, than it was about scrambling for the money to pay off the debt. When faced with the fear and revelation of losing their home, the group of misfits came together, emphasizing that family is worth it, through good and bad, because they always have your back.