A review of Asbury’s production, “Spoon River Anthology.”

By Cassie Gerhardstein
Senior Features Writer

A smooth, silky voice in the form of a gospel-sounding tune flows from sophomore Jake Theriault’s mouth as he enters the stage with a guitar strapped to his back. The rest of the cast follows soon after, bringing the song’s harmonies with them. 

Each cast member proceeds to one of the designated chairs, which are spaced out among the stage’s three-platform design. With the exception of a few spontaneous songs, the characters remain in these seats for the entire production. 

The show revolves around a small town, called Spoon River, and the cast, who all play dead citizens of the town. It consists of a series of monologues where, one by one, each character gives the audience a glimpse into his or her life and death in Spoon River. 

If I had to summarize the show in one word, it would be: unique. The creative aspects of the show fascinated me.

The most visually creative element was the lighting. The stage was lit by dangling light bulbs that hung from the ceiling, creating a dim, almost star-like atmosphere. The significant lighting continued through the last scene of the show, when the characters seemed to disappear into a beam through the use of spotlights, leaving a lasting impact on the audience. 
The highlights of the show were the songs. The musical numbers were extremely well-done, and oftentimes humorous. They allowed the audience a break from the heavy monologues while often adding a comedic element. 

The actors were all vulnerable and did a great job connecting to their characters, which made the show’s deep themes of love and death noticeable and relatable. 

However, while the show had many strong elements and a significant amount of talent, there were still a few things I struggled to understand.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a theater major and perhaps cannot fully appreciate this collection of poems for the brilliance many proclaim it to be. I walked into the black box theater without any idea of what to expect. However, I found the show to be rather slow and hard to follow. 

I understand that this isn’t intended to be a vibrant musical or an action-packed play; however, I still feel like more could have been done to make the show more entertaining. Because there is no defined plot, the monologues can get long and confusing, and there is not much to keep the audience engaged besides the occasional song. In addition, poor diction from some of the actors often made the monologues hard to follow.

Despite these factors, Asbury’s production of “Spoon River Anthology” was performed by a group of extremely talented actors and production members. I loved the creative use of lighting, the vulnerability of the actors and the songs. I’m glad I got to experience such a well-known production.