By Emily Csukardi
After a Valentine’s Day filled with overpriced chocolates and forget-me-nots, it can be easy to become momentarily blinded by the silly issues brought on by even the dearest romantic relationships.
A comedic glimpse at the absurdities and trivialities of human relationships was brought to Glendale Community College courtesy of the Theatre Arts department’s production of “Splitting Issues (And Several Other Noteworthy Concerns)” this Feb. 22- March 2.
Written by Sam Brobrick and directed by GCC’s David Seitz, this comedy included nine short scenes varying in degree of romance, hilarity and outlandish situations.
From a frustrated couple arguing over the prominence of dip at a dinner party, a restaurant server flustered at the presence of a greedy ex-wife to a not-so-gentle-man who dwells in art museums to pick up women—this series of vignettes brought many issues to the eyes of audience members.
The cast was comprised of 15 GCC students who took on multiple roles, playing drastically different characters.
Actor JJ Hansen played the role of Wayne, a tricky neighbor, in “Dinner With Friendly Neighbors” as well as the role of Richard inside of a dimly-lit bar scene called “Purgatory.”
“My favorite scene to be in was ‘Dinner with Friendly Neighbors.’ I got to play an outrageous, over-the-top Texan cowboy, so that one was really fun for me,” said Hansen.
One scene that stood out in its intelligent wit and humor was “Bingo-Bango,” which was a brief interaction between a woman who goes to art museums to admire the work and a man who scouts museums for attractive, single women. The interactions between the characters of Rosalind and Fred, played by Bailey Hall and Jared Queen, were quick-witted and surprising with each exchange of dialogue.
“My favorite scene to watch was ‘Bingo-Bango.’ Jared was amazing in that and so was Bailey; they worked that script to their fullest advantage,” said Hansen.
Having the same actors play multiple roles provided a variation of characters to be entertained by while seeing familiar faces. Often, noticing the same actor go from one colored wig to another became just as exciting as the new personality traits presented onstage.
“You get to experience everyone’s acting on a wider scale. Everyone pulls together a bit more because they are in more than one scene. It’s more of a team effort,” said Hansen.
For Hansen, “Splitting Issues” was not only entertaining; it was a learning experience.
“One of the good things about community college theatre is since its educational, our director will point out to us when we’re improving. It’s good for us to see the difference between opening night and closing night. We just constantly improve,” Hansen said.
The youngest members of the audience consisted of college-aged students, who remained most responsive throughout the comedic events within the play. With a hint of suggestive jokes and raunchy humor, “Splitting Issues” presented itself as a play for mature audiences.
Since the scenes within “Splitting Issues” did not follow one specific plotline, some audience members found it challenging to enjoy.
“People weren’t quite sure what to think because they are not used to vignettes. Some were thrown off by the whole thing, but other people found it really creative and great,” said Hansen after hearing some of the audience’s reactions.
The play took place within a small stage space, similar to the up-close, personal approach of a black box theater. One unique aspect of the set design was the digital background used throughout the play. Along with furniture and props, each vignette had a different background to enhance the atmosphere of the scene.
“Since we’re a community college, we have a lower budget yet we’re still able to make the best out of it with that budget. We can be creative with the stage set-up, and all the designers were able to adapt to it,” said Hansen.
In “Bingo-Bango,” a digital image of an art museum hallway was used to create a hyper-realistic portrayal of the environment. For not having opulent, large sets, this minimalistic approach worked very well in letting the audience focus more on the comedic interactions between characters.
“Some people were inspired by the fact that even though we had a small space and low budget, we were still able to put that much work into it and bring it to its fullest potential. Overall, the audience was really impressed with us,” Hansen said.
“Splitting Issues” presented everyday human interactions in a successful way by letting the audience see how absurd and comedic relationships can be. With vignettes, the audience was able to see a variety of situations, all with the same common thread of laughable instances that people can relate to.
Altogether, “Splitting Issues” granted the audience two hours of being able to laugh at common eccentricities and imperfections—making it a successful comedy based on the absurdity of relationships in the human experience.