Morris Panych’s absurdist comedy The Ends of the Earth — produced by 5th Company Lane — is built around the story of two men who go to extreme lengths to avoid each another.
The play centers around two men, Frank Gardener and Henry Walker. Gardener maintains a life so completely unremarkable that even his girlfriend doesn’t remember him. He’s a foil to Walker, who suffers from severe paranoia after he was struck by lightning at the age of three. Gardener believes Walker is following him, and after he tries to find out why, Walker begins to think Gardener is following him.
In the plot that ensues, both men attempt to evade each other, only to find themselves going in the same direction and constantly crossing paths. To avoid confronting Walker, Gardener goes to a secluded island with few inhabitants and means of transport, only to find that Walker had the same idea. Ironically, by running away from one another, both men end up at the titular “Ends of the Earth”, an inn on a remote, desolate island.
5th Company Lane does a fine job producing a rather challenging play. The Ends of the Earth doesn’t have a particularly complicated plot-wise, but there are many philosophical ideas presented in long, complicated monologues that often lead to unrelated tangents.
Director Luke Brown, ArtSci ’16, elicited lively performances from the cast and ensured that the play maintained its dynamism.
Happy Opening to 5th Company Lane Presents: The Ends of the Earth!!! The show starts at 8pm in Convocation Hall… https://t.co/aZ9MOPDXL0
— 5th Company Lane (@5thCompanyLane) February 25, 2016
The five-actor cast held the play together well and maneuvered through Panych’s winding script with ease. Sarah Currie, ArtSci ’18, gave a wonderful performance as the East European psychic, and her comical timing and expressiveness made her the person to watch whenever she was on stage. Mathew Hunt, ArtSci ’16, also gave a memorable performance as the twitchy, paranoid Henry Walker.
The monologues became long and drawn out at some points, but the energy returned whenever a new character was introduced.
There were also certain points where the movement and blocking was on the cusp of being overdone, especially in a section that had Walker and Gardener engage in a cat-and-mouse chase around the stage. Though the idea fits into the genre of absurdism — a genre that thrives on purposeless and chaotic universes — the lack of space on the set didn’t lend itself to success.
That said, the set, designed by first-year student Ashley Frandsen, was wonderfully bizarre. Everything from the angled doors to the asymmetrical walls made the design look like something from a geometric fever dream, which was exactly what the play needed.
5th Company Lane achieved success in their execution of a complicated piece like The Ends of the Earth, even with an amateur cast and crew and a modest budget. While it may have been slightly ambitious to take on a complex text, the acting and strong aesthetic choices made the show both entertaining and thoughtful.
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