“The Awkward Bow” is a three-act play written by Daniel Flesch ’19 and Luke Ciancarelli ’19, which details the more perilous manifestations of love that arise at a Berkshire town’s Harvest Festival Formal. The show itself is structured like the popular 2003 dramedy “Love Actually” — except in this production, the flurry of romantic subplots is tied together with a series of dramatic monologues in sonnet form. The show incorporates a modern, self-aware perspective on the frivolity of romantic pursuits with flowing, antiquated language that provokes thought and transcends the enforcement of a time period.
The show hosts some fun individual performances throughout and emphasizes the prevalence of student talent on campus — in the form of writers, actors and directors. The narrator-slash-nutjob Lazarus Lazuli is played by Kohl Weisman ’19, who fills the entirety of Nick Chapel with his voice and personality. The comedic duo Simon Horn ’18 and Sam Brakarsh ’21 are, rightfully, never on stage apart. That’s probably for the best, since Horn’s convincing portrayal of Super Old Man James Washington made me concerned that he would fall over at any moment — and at one point, he actually does. Not that Brakarsh’s character, Hyperion, would have been much help; Hyperion, during the show, can be found placing racecar stickers on Nick Chapel’s walls and throwing the carefully placed underlay of fall foliage into the air.
The writing exhibited a knowledge of romantic poetry and the lasting cultural appeal of unrequited love. It made me wonder how much time the writers must have spent embodying their characters: watching the rain, drinking moderately repulsive dining hall coffee to suffer for their art, stuff like that.
At times, it felt as if there was a lack of focus. The show incorporated a lot of interesting and provocative ideas that weren’t always fully formed and created a pervading effect of clunkiness. If this show were a rap album, it would probably be Kevin Abstract’s sophomore album “American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story” — a 16-song opus of emotion that incorporates so many ideas and motifs that it’s difficult to maintain one of them for too long. This was evident in the multiple plots, prevalence of stock characters and ways in which the show continually referenced itself.
The multiple subplots were a really effective way of providing the audience with multiple experiences and perspectives, but it took away from my ability to connect to specific characters. At the close of the show, I found myself unsure of which characters I wanted to succeed or if I wanted any of the characters to succeed at all. This also could have been due to the fact that many of the female roles were stock characters. Granted, this was probably part of the point — the show often referred to itself as a show and used melodrama in a self-aware manner. But, even then, it is difficult to root for characters that are obvious archetypes and lack emotional complexity. Sometimes, the lack of complexity works in favor of the show’s humor, however. Walker Caplan ’20 portrays her character, the Regina George–like Audrey Walker, stunningly. In a monologue by Angela Prescott, played by Carly Wanna ’21 — one of the show’s final monologues — Angela’s role as a stock character and the not-so-subtle satirization of the sonnet monologues that preceded it made for one of the funniest moments of the show.
“The Awkward Bow” is not for the light of heart. This show, which will be performed in Nick Chapel at 8 p.m. on Dec. 7–9 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 9, is for those who like grand gestures of emotion and the throwing of autumn leaves.
Rianna Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org .