Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Written and directed by junior Ryan Reed, the stage read “EVOLUTION” follows the main character, Zach, through his struggles with his past actions and thoughts about himself as an individual. Throughout the two-hour show, the main characters struggle with sexuality and growth issues.
There were five main characters on the show, all of whom went to high school together. Zach, the main character, was played by the second Tom Covington. A close friend and often the “voice of reason” is Lily, played by sophomore Olivia Rubrum. Arlo Kiss plays Ky, one of the group’s main friends. Senior Sam Gamez plays a pretty vulgar character in Connor. And Ellery Overstreet plays the last of the main friend group characters, Henry.
The show focuses on Zach, who in high school made parody videos with his close friends. The first scene of the show shows the friends making one of these videos, which includes themes of homophobia and vulgarity. The main group of friends set the tone by creating a parody Star Wars video in which the “legendary Pride of Space Army” must escape the “monogamous empire” and the heroes, Finn and Poe, are lover.
Later in the show, viewers realize that this scene was the most pivotal in Zach’s life; it changed his life and the way he saw himself forever.
As Zach and his friends move on with their lives, people start to see Zach differently because of this video, and although he tries to redeem himself by making his own “different” movie, he still has this overwhelming sense of guilt for the past. And then the group of friends falls apart.
Most of the characters’ dialogue was very vulgar. Sometimes it might have been a little distracting too. There were times when Connor didn’t need to drop an f-bomb every two minutes. But then again, maybe that’s how some high school kids talk. The vulgarity added a raw feel to the play, allowing viewers to tell a little more than if the show had been censored.
It is worth noting the very fluid movements between the scenes which were defined by a well-organized team. Soph Sawyer, set designer, did an excellent job. The actors themselves would pull out the props and set design and it was clear things were rehearsed well.
Monologues and scenes with inner voices really made this show stand out. Several scenes were just focused on Zach, speaking through his thoughts and emotions, sometimes accompanied by three voices in his head, which were played by actors standing behind him. These vocals, performed by Briana Hashim, Gabriel Watkins-Mocumb and Izzy Rines, added a deeper layer to Zach’s inner turmoil.
Watkins-Mocumb played not only one of the voices, but also Tyler and a “Local Man”. He was a hidden gem, and although he wasn’t one of the main characters, he often stole the show, especially with the humorous ‘local man’ performance. It was Watkins-Mocumb’s debut on the Bininger Theater stage and he definitely proved himself here.
Lily, played by Rubrum, also dominated the scene with her strong personality and professionalism. His character’s death in the second act was completely unexpected. Zach’s friend Connor often made anti-Semitic comments towards Lily, but Zach never stopped him. Her death symbolized a change for Zach, and he had to finally admit his past actions and current guilt.
The first act of “EVOLUTION” was stronger than the second. The second act seems much shorter. Most of the events happened in the first act, with the second act taking place a few years after the events of the first act. But that’s not to say the second act was boring, there was just less to do.
Before the show began, the AP announced that the show would include homophobia, anti-Semitism, prejudice, intrusive thoughts and strong language, which triggered a sense of apprehension in the audience. But in the end, the audience understands why these themes were so important to include. The characters’ actions of stereotyping and being homophobic come back to haunt them in the end. This show demonstrates that past actions can have serious consequences but that people have the ability to change, only if they want to.