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In the Blood

Poverty in Your Face

By Samantha Shunk
On March 7, 2010

For the past two weekends, including Thursdays, the CSU Dramatic Arts Program has been presenting the play In the Blood in the CSU Factory Theatre. The performance gave a true look into the poverty that exists all around us.

The premise of the play by Suzan-Lori Parks is intriguing as a look at the way the poor are really treated in our society. Using the name "Hester" for the main character, and her relations with "Reverend D" bring in all the feelings associated with the beloved Hester Prynne from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. The play is meant as a postmodern tragedy, and it sure pulls through in that respect. It was pretty depressing overall, and is likely to make one at least tear up if not full-on cry. Alas, that is the nature of a tragedy.

The most compelling parts of the play were the monologues that each of the characters who put Hester down performed. It was at these times that the actors, who are all CSU students, showed their talent. However, when it came to the interaction between the characters, there was something lacking the majority of the time, in most cases it was the lack of feeling in the lines delivered. Yet, at other points the actors were entirely in the moment.

Left and right, the audience witnessed Hester being taken advantage of because she is too weak to deny their requests. At times, Hester, played by Elisa Hanna, shows just how much power she can assert, and it is quite intense.

With such a small cast and such a small stage area, the performance made the most of what was available. Each actor, with the exception of Hanna who plays Hester, has two roles. In total there are only six actors, and five of them show their versatility within short spans of time.

The warning of "strong sexual content" in all the advertising and at the ticket booth is quite intriguing, and there certainly was that sexual aspect to the play with talk of threesomes, ejaculating inside Hester and blow jobs. It would have been slightly awkward to have viewed with parents, especially if you get squeamish while watching a PG-13 sex scene with them.

Although the play was not what I expected, it did give a powerful look into a life of poverty and all the problems that go along with it. While not the most magnificent performance ever, the production of In the Blood at the CSU Factory Theatre carries its powerful theme and message well.

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