Hannah Boucher | Staff Writer
Note: A member of the Duke editorial staff is involved in this production.
Science is constantly pushing boundaries, always taking risks and looking for the next best thing. This is reflected in many works as the question of “what if?” is asked. What if humans could be made immortal? What if humans were able to have stronger brains, allowing them to open doors never thought possible? In the most recent Red Masquers play, Endeavor Mind, written by Duquesne alum Kim Z. Dale and directed by Jill Jeffrey, the everyday life of one woman becomes extraordinary.
Set in the modern day, this four person play centers around the life of Claudine Delaney (Mackenzie Martin) as she begins her new life after a brain augmentation surgery that enhances her brain. The science for this surgery is developed by famous scientist, Dr. Francis Westmore (Colleen Hammond), who selected Claudine to participate in the experimental trials.
While the script is not a new concept, it adds to the never ending narrative of limitless science. However, like most of these stories, it serves as a cautionary tale — a warning for those who lose their humanity because of their pride.
The most prideful character in the play, by far, is none other than Dr. Westmore. Hammond, who portrays the groundbreaking scientist, perfectly captures the essence of a scientist who wants nothing more than to make progress. Consumed by her desire to improve the world— at whatever cost— Dr. Westmore’s passion for her work makes it almost impossible to dislike her. Hammond’s performance as Westmore is unquestionably impressive.
Claudine’s husband, Ray Delaney (Patrick McLean), is a perfect foil to that of Westmore. Loving, supportive and empathetic, his character is the definition of humanity. McLean’s wonderful performance assures the audience that there is still hope, even in the darkest of times. His optimism brings light to the stage, even when prospects look grim.
Addison Delaney, played by Khloe Manuppelli, is a carbon copy of her mother Claudine. Bright, curious and hopeful, Addison brings some much-needed innocence to the show. Manuppelli’s character goes from a high schooler to a graduate student in a matter of two hours. Her ability to shift from a teenager to a responsible adult was excellent.
Claudine Delaney, the protagonist of the play, was a very complex character. Martin did an incredible job of portraying Claudine’s character, even when the content became slightly sexual. Her maturity as an actress shines, even in the most risqué of scenes. As Claudine’s world begins to crumble around her, Martin’s performance does not falter — in fact it is at its best when she loses it. The audience feels her frustration and resonates with her pain. This role was no easy feat, but Martin steps up to the challenge.
Due to the scientific nature of the show, the technical aspects played a major role in the storytelling. Throughout the play, there are a variety of projections on the white set, including “text” conversations, video advertisements and various binary codes. Along with these projections, there are also some audio effects, which enhance the visuals on the set. These additional elements help set the show and tell the story in a meaningful way.
Endeavor Mind is a unique show that pushes boundaries and makes the audience think. A refreshing take on science gone wrong, the creative team behind the show successfully tells the story of the desire to achieve greatness.
The play runs from Nov. 14 to Nov. 23, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Admission is free for students with their Duquesne IDs, $10 for seniors, $15 for adults and $5 for other students and children.