Campus Life

Festen offers dark perspective

Secrets, scandal and slander are the themes of David Eldridge's Festen, the next Theatre and Dramatic Arts production, playing Nov. 24 to 28, 8 p.m. nightly in the University Theatre.

This dark and intriguing work shakes the skeletons in the closet of a family's shameful past, rocking their foundation and threatening to destroy their middle-class respectability.

"This is one of those plays actors starve for," says Director Jay Whitehead. "The cast has truly embraced the challenges of this play – to go to the dark places the material takes them. We've spent a great deal of time preparing relationships, as there is a great deal of love among the hate within each of the characters."

The play begins at patriarch Helge's 60th birthday party as family members gather to celebrate and to smooth over the cracks left by daughter Linda's recent suicide. As Helge's eldest son, Christian raises the first toast, and guests are rocked by revelations he is determined to expose.

"The play is so confronting," says Whitehead. "We want the audience to be right in the middle of it."

Quite literally, the audience will feel like guests at the table as seating is set on stage – an intimate and eye-opening spectacle as the plot unravels. From the revealing lighting to the stark set, the elements of the production add to the emotional character of the play.

"The lighting, sound and set are innovative and interesting," says Whitehead. "The look and feel of the production very much aligns with the mood and tone of the play."

The set was designed by James McDowell, with Kelly Roberts as sound designer and Mike Takats as the lighting designer.

"This is an emotional night at the theatre," adds Whitehead. "The themes revolve around relationships that are universal. Festen exposes the big pink elephants in the room, which all families can identify with."

Audiences are warned that the subject matter is very mature, and may be unsuitable for audiences under 18 years of age. Seating is very limited, and tickets are on sale at the University Box Office.