If you wander into the Fine Arts Building this weekend, you may find yourself getting transported Downtown without having to take a cab. The Binghamton University theatre department’s In-the-Works studio production, “Fun” by Howard Korder, recreates a seedy scene on the streets, producing a play that feels unsettling — a stark contrast to the title of the show.
The one-act play showcases two teenage boys from an unnamed town, spending their night trying to live up to the title of the play. The recurring question of the play is “what are we going to do next?” or “how are we going to have fun?” However, the overall tone of the play conflicts with these intentions. In a search for entertainment, the characters end up committing crimes, such as drunk driving and attempted assault, creating a dark atmosphere.
Performing in Studio B, the play creates an intimate space both through its blocking — in which cast members use the aisles of the small audience to move throughout scenes — and through the constant references to sections of the greater Binghamton area, such as Chenango Street and Murray Street. While Binghamton is never specifically mentioned, those familiar with the city will notice the striking similarities.
The play’s references to the city of Binghamton in setting stem from the playwright’s roots— Korder himself is a BU alum.
Possibly the most interesting aspect of the production is the sheer antithesis that exists within the realm of the play: though the play is titled “Fun,” every character appears to be individually haunted by some matter in their life that darkens their story. The story of the play itself revolves around sinister dealings, such as muggings, buying drugs and hiring sex workers. Within the course of the play, the leads Denny and Casper get into all sorts of criminal activity, from underage drinking to the attempted mugging of a passerby.
“[The characters] do have ‘fun,’ and I think that this shows what passes for fun for a certain group of people at a certain time,” said Tom Mackin, who plays the role of Larry in the show and is a senior majoring in comparative literature. “Maybe for other people it does seem dirty and gritty, but that’s the reality of the situation.”
The play is directed by Anthony Gabriele, a senior majoring in computer science, and is the first studio show of this semester. As per the theatre department’s guidelines, a studio show can be taken on by any student who wishes to be involved as a director. This student must submit a proposal outlining the performance and, should they be accepted, are allotted a budget of $450 and a rehearsal period of five and a half weeks. Though there is a faculty adviser for the play, each member of the creative team and cast is a student at BU, with the occasional exception of a faculty director. This creates an environment purely centered around the growth of the students partaking in the production. Ultimately, the play succeeds within the setting of educational theatre, and the studio production ensures that the audience will definitely be entertained, perhaps to the point where they even begin to have some “fun” as well.
“Fun” opened Feb. 25, with additional showings on Feb. 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. in Studio B of the Fine Arts Building.