This was the second time that I had attended a play in the Claude Shaver Theatre, but this time there was a different set up. The other play I had attended was The Trojan Women in which they had a thrust, which went from the main stage to the back of the house. This was most of the acting took place, except for a few scenes where the actors were in the aisles. In Balm in Gilead there was surreal sense of being in the play. The actors move fluently throughout the house, and while the main acting took place on stage, I felt they did a good job at interacting with the audience.
The cast did not just interact with the audience during the play, but also while Blake and I were seating waiting for the second act to come on. We decided to play along with the actors and they did not let up for one second. Even when we tried to stop they kept asking us for money, asking if we wanted to go in a hotel with them, and even the drag queens were hitting on us. The whole concept of the play was to interact with the audience, so that you could not tell when the play was stopped, and when it was going on. The drunk guy followed us all the way out of the play, it was like this was not a play but reality.
The thing that really shocked me was the fact that the whole play was set at one place, a twenty-four hour diner in New York City, except for one small scene in a nearby hotel room. The whole time they had every different type of person going in and out the place. They had fights, cursing, drug deals, and even a murder. It had everything that makes a good Hollywood movie today, except it was in a play. One really weird thing about this play was how if there was an important point to make by an actor, the whole cast would freeze, except for that one actor. The whole time the actor was speaking they would put one spotlight on the speaker, and dim the lights on the rest of the characters. This really emphasized the key points in the play. This play was originally set in the 1960’s, but this performance directed by Michael Tick was set around the 1980’s. So they had more issues dealing with the 80’s like AIDS, the rise of heroin, and ugly clothing with bad hairstyles, this was used to show how important these problems are today. Brian Gouri (dopey), says, “The goal of the production is to get people to realize the reality of the characters’ lives.” It just goes to show that drug dealers, dope-heads, and prostitutes still have lives just like normal people just in different circumstances than the audience.