Back-to-back and side-splitting

By Cecily Arambula

Comedy only works with the right delivery, and the Theatre
Department’s performances of “The Bear” and “The Proposal”
certainly delivered the laughs.

Directed by Sam Robinson, these two one-acts, written by 19th
century Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, were performed
back-to-back last week at the intimate Studio Theatre.

The plays are set to be performed again on Feb. 17-19.

For the first act, “The Bear,” the theater was adorned with
Russian-influenced furniture and a large portrait.

“The Bear” revolves around a creditor who visits a widow to
collect the money her dead husband ” the man in the portrait ” owes
him.

When the widow refuses to pay the creditor and agrees to a duel
with him, he becomes fascinated with her.

The bitter creditor’s anger quickly turns into love. He’s so
head over heels that he proposes marriage.

Third-year Theatre students Juan De La Cruz, as the creditor,
and Danielle Ramos, as the widow, play opposite each other
perfectly to create an unlikely and completely dysfunctional, yet
totally hilarious, couple.

Ramos’ performance of the overly dramatic young widow, Elena
Ivanova Popova, was funny and entertaining. The audience burst out
in laughter each time Ramos threw herself down in tears and
dramatically ran off set in her full black gown.

De La Cruz played the part of the angry but sensitive creditor
Grigory Stepanovitch Smirnov and stole the show with his comedic
delivery of rambling lines, showcasing his ability to portray an
angry man who is, deep down, an emotional wreck.

Even fifth-year Theatre student, Nicholas Perez, who had a tiny
role as the widow’s loyal but easily scared-off servant, drew
laughs from the crowd.

A hunched-back Perez amusingly ran off stage each time the
creditor raised his voice at him, resulting in an uproar of
laughter from the audience.

At the end of “The Bear,” the set was quickly changed into an
outdoor setting with table and chairs.

“The Proposal” is another one-act that shows the possible
follies of marriage propositions.

But this time an added dynamic is introduced: the mother.

In “The Proposal,” the proposition turns into a full-on argument
between the man, his intended fiance and her mother.

Gerardo Alarcon, a third-year theatre student, played the part
of Ivan Vassilevitch Lomov. Ivan suffers from frequent heart
palpitations, causing parts of his body to go completely numb.

After he arrives at the home of his neighbor Svetlana Stepanovna
Chubukov, performed by third-year Theatre student Kimberlee Stone,
Ivan asks for her daughter’s hand in marriage. When Svetlana
agrees, the heart palpitations begin.

As he flopped, wiggled and dragged himself around the stage in
his tuxedo, top hat and white gloves, Alarcon stayed right on cue
with his lines.

Alarcon’s physical comedy made the audience laugh even more than
the seemingly never-ending yet entertaining bickering between him
and Natalya Stepanova Chubukov, performed by third-year Theatre
student, Kierston Tanopo.

There is no doubt both casts’ members are talented and know how
comedy works. With the wrong casting, “The Bear” and “The Proposal”
could have been a flop, but with the help of direction from
Robinson, these theatre students delivered incredibly entertaining,
funny and all around good performances.

“The Bear” and “The Proposal” will play at the Studio Theatre in
Bldg 25, Feb. 17-19 at 8 p.m. for $10.

For tickets and reservations, call (909) 869-3800.

Back-to-back and side-splitting

Lina Bhambhani / The Poly Post

Back-to-back and side-splitting

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