The straight-on framing of the WLH chalkboard looks like trademark Wes Anderson.ÊThe camera then cuts to a blonde positioned in front of that chalkboard. Asking, “Am I in the right place?” a mousey Rachel Watson (Allysha Powanda ’03) delivers the first line of the movie, “One Room, Two Women,” directed and authored by Jonathan Smith ’04 and produced by Debra Weinstein ’04.
In this first scene, Rachel states her name before the camera and dribbles out her audition monologue, something Shakespeare-esque, about the moon.ÊExpectations about the Juliet balcony scene are fulfilled in an unspoken, enchanting version: just substitute a window for the balcony. Rachel’s eyes deliver the lines. The score, composed specifically for this production by Julia Meinwald ’04 (also cast as the director’s “brilliant” assistant, who rocks John Lennon sunglasses), works mystically with the images to produce a desired effect, communicating Rachel’s desire for another cast hopeful, Aria Livingston (Elizabeth Meriwether ’04). Meriwether and Powanda, both practiced actresses on the Yale stage and screen, perform before the camera with aplomb.
The sequence of the movie follows the play-within-a-play rubric, with the romantic twists between Rachel and Aria’s characters paralleling those of their stage characters, Norma and Mona, respectively. These two levels of the plot become dangerously related as Rachel’s ability to distinguish one from the other is blindsided by her growing adoration for Aria. Aria, too, gets submerged into this blurring — when rehearsing her stage-lines, she confuses Norma with Rachel. However, she then emerges out of her obliviousness and into reality with a doe-eyed buck. Floyd (Patrick Knighton ’05), the gopher sound boy of the set, plays his bit as an insert in the romantic back-and-forth with charm and appropriate clumsiness.
Gregory Yolen ’04, starring as the SoHo-cosmic director Stefan Stevenson, sports some hot mittens on the set. His overacting offers comic relief to the drama. However, his inspired eccentricities go too far in the direction of burlesque to connect with the lower diegetic level, that of the play outside the play. Yolen’s role as the visionary of the play, which palm-reads the unscripted drama of its actresses, has too much responsibility not to endow his performance with some sincerity. If the entire cast marched along with the spirit to satirize, then Yolen’s part would piece into the whole brilliantly, for his performance does command a laugh in itself. But the weight of Meriwether and Powanda’s performances, as well as the very competent look of the piece, leave the impression that this movie oscillates more to the side of wanting to chew the fat seriously.
Yolen is a staff columnist and music reviewer for the Yale Daily News.
Despite its shortcomings, this production features a cast to root for, high-caliber integration of imagery and soundtrack — the overlay of Moby in a finale scene escalates the intensity to white-hot — and it succeeds at hamming up the audience’s expectations. (As a side note, see if you can spot the pork in the flick.) Details from the first scene allow the audience to predict the curves of the plot, and yet the experience of watching keeps the spectator in grins. The crew’s and cast’s devoted hours to this production has put out a little shortie of impressive booty.