“That Makes Two of Us” uses Zoom to create a unique and creative theater experience

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CONTRIBUTED BY PHOEBE KALLAHER

“That Makes Two of Us,” utilized the features of Zoom to its highest capabilities in order to tell a humorous, yet relatable and emotional story.

The work of the average high school student can oftentimes feel like too much. With a clone, however, life would be much much easier…or would it?

The Drama Society’s original production of this year’s States Devised Play, “That Makes Two of Us” on March 4 and 5, explored the answer to this frequently-pondered question. The cast, crew and directors of the production utilized the features of Zoom to its highest capabilities in order to tell a humorous, yet relatable and surprisingly emotional story to make an altogether extremely entertaining experience.

Alex Peterson (senior Din Klein) is your average high school student. Busy with work, school and a looming skating sponsorship, Alex struggles to keep afloat amongst an increased workload at her parent’s pizza parlor: Pie in the Sky. Alex finds that accomplishing all of the items on her already bursting agenda is nearly impossible and struggles to find time to spend with her family and friends as well.

The audience is then transported to the far reaches of outer space where aliens intercept her cry for help. Alex is sent a clone of herself named “Alex 2,” and for a brief period of time, all is well. Alex is able to enjoy skating and hanging out with friends without the stress of the pizza parlor, while Alex 2 spends time working at Pie in the Sky, where she bonds with parents Beth (senior Niovi Rahme) and Jolene (junior Joann Huang).

Noticing her parent’s newfound appreciation for Alex 2, the original Alex finds herself competing with the clone of herself, realizing she has started to be replaced in her own family. The tensions which have slowly climbed higher in the previous scenes lead to a satisfying and touching payoff as Alex confronts her parents about her true feelings towards the clone that is making life “easier.”

The tensions which have built throughout the show are captured in a raw and emotional argument between Alex and her parents. Alex feels like they only love her clone, and her parents feel like Alex 2 is more present in their lives than the original Alex ever was. The scene is beautifully written as it makes the audience feel for both parties. The script comes to life with the actor’s goosebump-inducing performances.

Theater is not meant to be performed over Zoom as the experience of a live show is irreplicable. And there were certainly some drawbacks when it came to the actors’ ability to play off of one another due to the online setting. Yet these drawbacks caused by Zoom were made up for with unique and creative ideas that would have been impossible in the confines of a normal theater.

In previous years, a theater production involving a clone would have been technically impossible. This year, using specific video display and quick changes, disbelief is suspended, and at the moment feels as if there truly is a clone of the same person right in front of you.

A specific example of this clever usage is a fight between Alex and Alex 2 at the dinner table. When called on to pass over the vegetables, both Alex and Alex 2 fight over passing the bowl to their mother. Multiple times throughout the scene, most times with just a one-line break, the camera switches back and forth showing each Alex, which are differentiated by different colored shirts. This moment is truly unexpected and one of the most shocking, amusing and entertaining moments in the whole piece.

A large portion of the credit for pulling such a stunt off goes to Klein. As she said in the talkback which took place after the performance, the scene required “lots of practice putting on a shirt as fast as I could.”

However it was not only Klein’s ability to put on a shirt that was remarkable, but also her phenomenal acting. She was able to display subtle differences between both versions of Alex despite remaining generally the same. When acting as Alex 2, she became more spirited, energetic and robotic. When she was original Alex, she acted in many ways the same, but conveyed a more human persona.

CONTRIBUTED BY PHOEBE KALLAHER

While the show touched on emotional topics, it was no doubt a comedy ride throughout. Most of the comedic relief was found in the four aliens who brilliantly played their role of slightly clueless extraterrestrials. A stand out moment of the show was when the aliens attempt to eat pizza and fail horrendously. With synchronized movements and animated yet robotic voices, combined with creative costumes and stereotypical green faces, the show provides an entertaining representation of creatures from outer space.

Most times the work in our lives can seem not only pointless but impossible; leaving us less time to do the things we want, and creating a divide between us and the people we love. “That Makes Two of Us” suggests, however, that this work can be important to us without realizing it. Alex finds herself drawn back to the hectic lifestyle she previously endured because she realizes that is where her connection to those around her is found.

With impeccable sound and video coordination throughout, “That Makes Two of Us” creates an immersive experience for the audience and truly displays an amazing production fully over Zoom. However, its ability to see Zoom not as a limit, but as an opportunity to experiment with ideas rarely explored in live theater creates an experience truly “out of this world.”