SHOW: Modern Playground
GROUP: Savanah Knechel / UArts
ATTENDED: Thu., Sept. 5, 8 p.m.
CLOSES: Sat., Sept. 14
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: "Travel back to 1999, where rumors of Y2K loom in the atmosphere of a playground. This unsuspecting love story will leave the audience with a desire to follow their dreams. By creating a vibrant, larger than life environment we hope to transport the audience back to their childhood."
WE THINK: Senior UArts student Savanah Knechel has captured the craft of implication, both on and off the stage, in her deeply nostalgic, yet strangely relatable, Modern Playground. She invites you to view the world through the lens of a six-year-old: where cooties are deathly, the Y2K monster is coming for our computers, and your imagination is everything. Upon first view of the set — which, by the way, you are welcome to vandalize with chalk — you're justified in wonder where the swings and jungle gym are. Fear not: Miss Knechel will provide, so long as you bring your imagination.
Her characters are written with such attention to detail that the whole “adults playing children is corny” dilemma is thrown out the window. The scariest part? They’re believable to the extent that we may not only have met them before, but we may have been them before. As Cody, Arlen Hancock’s late-night chalk drawing of his late mother is enough to start tearing the seams of your heart; his mystical dream reunion with her is enough to rip it to shreds completely.
While our swingsets may have turned to desk chairs, Miss Knechel invites you to question how drastically things have changed (if at all). Her piece almost dares you to read deeply into it, as it does raise some mystical, even self-reflective, questions. My advice? Enjoy it as it is in that moment. While the multiplicity is absolutely there, we could all use another day roaming the thoughtless bliss that is our childhood playground.
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