By Agnes Musee
After three and a half weeks of rehearsals, the Department of Theater and New Dance debuted “Crooked” Oct. 20 at University Theater.
The play follows 14-year-old Laney, an aspiring writer battling the hurdles of high school, the clash between religion and homosexuality, her disability and other difficulties in her adolescent years.
The dramatic comedy begins with Laney’s first arrival in Oxford, Mississippi. She befriends Maribel, a die-hard religious believer in the power of Jesus Christ.
Maribel and Laney’s unlikely friendship stems from their lack of friends, insecurities and failures to fit in.
At home, Laney deals with Elise, her unemployed mother in crisis. Elise had a delusional husband she divorced due to his erratic behavior. She sent him away to a facility because he became a danger to himself and others.
The divorce and her father’s illness created a rift between Laney and Elise. Both characters struggle to help one another cope with the absence of Laney’s father, while overcoming their own mother-daughter conflicts.
As their friendship progresses, Maribel convinces Laney to accompany her at church in order to confess her sins and surrender her heart to Christ through prayer. In the midst of their prayer, Laney kisses Maribel, opening the door for Laney to explore her own sexuality.
The play also includes a clash between belief systems. Elise counteracts Maribel’s strong religious beliefs with her own blunt secular views. For example, early on in the play, Elise makes it clear that she believes religion is an oppressive and sexist system against women.
Elise also gives Maribel realistic insight on taboo topics she is unfamiliar with due to her orthodox religious lifestyle. Maribel asks for advice about sex, boys and menstruation.
The play explores themes of religion, homosexuality, adolescent growing pains, the mother- daughter dynamic and coping with difficult times. Both Elise and Laney cope with the absence of Laney’s father in different ways.
Laney copes by writing gruesome stories and turning to Christianity while embracing a lesbian lifestyle in order to provoke her mother. Elise copes by drinking and making sarcastic comments about Laney’s new lifestyle and Maribel’s naivety.
Maribel also deals with humiliation from school, church and Elise. She copes by throwing herself into her religious beliefs and in the end resorts to self-harm.
“Crooked” was written by Catherine Trieschmann and guest directed by Barbara June Dodge, who is also the faculty coordinator and director of the California Institute of the Arts CAP/Plaza de la Raza.
“Catherine Trieschmann and her trio wrote of people who are urgently trying to find that balance in a brutal and chaotic world,” wrote Dodge in her director’s notes. “Their efforts to connect, gain control, survive, stay in constant motion and run a crooked path shifts with every passing moment and change of alliance.”
Members of the Cal Poly Pomona Repertory Theater made up the cast of Crooked. Kapri Margary plays Laney, Kendra Culla plays Elise and Julia Pool plays Maribel. The casted trio continue to develop their own characters every showcase.
“I am convinced that using our creative imaginations has allowed our team to get this far, to arrive at this not-yet-perfect-triangle,” wrote Dodge in the director’s notes.
There have been mixed reviews of what “Crooked” is about. Some interpret it as a coming out story, as well as a religious journey. Others think it’s about three women trying to figure things out as they muddle through their own tribulations.
Whatever the purpose of the play is, it definitely allows the audience to draw their own conclusions and interpret what the play is about to form their own opinions.
The play was performed on a simple, intimate stage and the casted trio gave a well-balanced and believable performance.
Although the play takes on a humorous angle on both spirituality and sexuality, a lot of complicated and dense psychological themes are put out for analysis, making “Crooked” a play that will consume audience members’ thoughts long after the final curtain.
Courtesy of Janet Garcia
Campus production of ‘Crooked’
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