Red Masquers harp teen love in “Album”

Courtesy of Duquesne Red Masquers

By: Kaye Burnet | Asst. News Editor

The Duquesne Red Masquers’ final full performance for the semester, Album by David Rimmer, follows the lives and loves of four high school students in the 1960s. The 1981 story uses the music of the time period, including compositions by The Beatles and the Beach Boys, to frame a coming-of-age tale that explores young ideas about love and sexuality.

As with any play centralized around young love, dating all the way back to a plot similar to Romeo and Juliet, the plot is somewhat contrived and superficial.

The strongest plot points circled around Trish’s relationship with her family. Although teenage rebellion against one’s family certainly isn’t a new theme, it was interesting to watch Trish grow from dismissing, to disliking to finally cherishing her family.

Conflicts are invented out of small things, and the dialogue had a certain unrealistic feel. In one scene, Peggy (Abby Blackmon) and Trish (Erin Womer) are discussing strange dreams they recently had. Instead of Rimmer’s dialogue creating the familiar feel of a casual but personal conversation between good friends, the words were awkward. Even the actresses seemed unsure how to handle the melodrama, and resorted to the horrendously overused fallback of speaking with their backs to each other.

Courtesy of Duquesne Red Masquers
Courtesy of Duquesne Red Masquers

That being said, Blackmon and Womer did the best they could with the script they had. In the same way Judy Garland made the somewhat silly character of Dorothy charming throughout the Wizard of Oz, Blackmon and Womer made Peggy and Trish sympathetic.

The two male protagonists in the show, Boo (Trevor Root) and Billy (Nathaniel Yost), have more dynamic characters. Boo transforms from an insecure introvert to a rebellious, James Dean wannabe. Yost devolves into an alcoholic and eventually loses his youthful bravado.

Root’s portrayal of Boo was masterful; he managed to perfect the use of vocal cracks and pitch changes to convey just how insecure and emotive his character could be. Yost handled the dramatic teenage mood swings that Billy experienced with aplomb, but could have been even bolder in embracing the highs and lows.

All four characters explore their sexuality throughout the show, which takes place over several years. Billy and Boo are stereotypical, young, hormonal males. Trish and Peggy are both fearful and excited about engaging physically with the boys. The themes are common and don’t break any new ground, but the show had enough humor and cheesy charm to get away with it.

The lighting and sound effects suited the show perfectly. Music from the 1960s was used for all the scene transitions and kept the audience firmly planted in the time period. During one scene, there is a supposed power outage, and the characters light candles and sit in semi-darkness. The lighting matched the ambiance of candlelight, and you got lost in the moment.

In the end, the play is worth a watch, if only for the acting and effects. Bob Dylan and Beatles fans will love all the catchy tunes, and at under two hours, the show goes by quickly. Anyone who wants to reminisce about the strange joys and sorrows of high school and young love can enjoy Album in the Peter Mills Theater in Rockwell Hall April 23 to April 25 at 8 p.m.