Performance: Friday, Nov. 1
On Friday night, Kenan Theatre became the stage for grief, teenage angst and penis jokes.
“Snow Days,” written and directed by Junior Mark Taylor, is a tragicomedy that follows three adolescents as they try to regain stasis in the wake of their friend’s suicide.
The play takes place at an all-boys boarding school.
While the messy bedrooms, baton passes of alcohol and parade of boxers seem to invoke an “American Pie”-feel, the visceral sense of tension between the boys moderates the low-brow comedy.
The first act opens with Jack, Sam and Brian marshaled in one of the bedrooms on a snow day.
There, Jack peacocks around the room, grasping his genitalia in one hand and gesticulating with the other as he boasts of his sexual allure. On a bawdier note, Jack also harps on the “9-inch donation” he made to Sam’s girlfriend prior to their relationship.
As the three verbally spar, their personalities bubble to the surface.
Jack, played by junior Cameron Stuart, is the flippant Lothario who is somehow still endearing.
Brian, played by Charles Monroe, is the sarcastic brooder, prone to blunt outbursts and bouts of self-righteousness.
Sam, played by sophomore Noah Lieberman, is the sensitive hulk who panders to every demand made by his notorious “sweetie pie,” Summer.
The interplay of characters’ personalities seduces laughter at the outset.
Yet the fraught nature of their relationship slowly unfurls, largely as a result of exposition by Brian.
Jack never expresses grief or guilt for not doing more to help Matt, a detail that Brian explicitly criticizes.
In another seeming blunder, Jack displays an enthusiasm that seems incongruous with the recent tragedy. He even rushes to spruce up the bedroom and seems more concerned with interior decorating than the gravity of their loss.
For his part, Sam runs away to get off every chance he can get, leaving Brian to wallow in his feelings alone.
Later in the play, Brian disparages Sam’s relationship as shallow and rants about Summer’s promiscuousity.
Brian goes on to declare that Sam is more loyal to Summer than he is to Matt and smashes Summer’s photograph on the floor. A physical fight ensues, leading Sam to request a housing reassignment in the second act.
Although initially incensed, Sam’s move forces Brian to reexamine his ways. Their last conversation comes from a humble place, the subtext intimating Brian’s apology.
While Sam does not move back in, there is the delicate hope that he and Brian will rekindle their friendship.
Notwithstanding the flux of Brian and Sam’s relationship, Jack remains the lighthearted intermediary, happily eating Slim Jims and flouncing around self-confidently.
It is not until near the end of the play that we see this veneer crack and his true grief seep out.
Still, there appears to be a glimmer of hope for him and Brian too.
At the end of the play, the pair watches a video of the four of them goofing around and singing in chipmunk voices. As Brian and Jack exit together, the video continues to stream, the laughter of all four rising as the lights dim.
“Snow Days” ambitiously navigates the respective subjects of grief and growing pains.
While the performances themselves were stellar, the overall development of characters could have occurred more steadily. It seemed that all three hastily transformed at the end to give the play an arc.
The play manages to balance comedy and tragedy skillfully with identifiable characters and an earnest ending.
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