Love, liars, laughs in play

Director (center) Elena Levinson observes (left) Giulia Mazza and (right) Brian Falbo during a play rehearsal at the English Building on Tuesday. Erica Magda

By Missy Smith

Imagine this.

A friend has always been there for you, then all the sudden they get a girlfriend or boyfriend, and they are no longer at your beck and call. Suddenly, now you’re interested.

There is always that one person who you don’t want until you can’t have them. Jealously piques your interest, leading you on a quest to attain your heart’s desire. Sometimes, after you get it, you don’t want it anymore. But you have to take that chance to find out if it really was what you wanted.

Love, jealously, deception and honor find their places in the What You Will Shakespeare Company’s production of “The Dog in the Manger.”

This play follows the beautiful yet intimidating and seemingly cold Countess Diana as she struggles with her feelings of love and jealousy. She does not wish to marry again, turning down the hands of wealthy suitors such as the Marquis Ricardo and her cousin, the Count Frederico.

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The only person who entices her is her secretary, Teodoro, but only after Diana learns that he is courting one of her lady’s maids, Marcela. She cannot marry him because he is of a lower class, yet she cannot bear to let anyone else, let alone Marcela, have him.

Conversely, Marcela weaves her own web of love and betrayal as she courts Diana’s servant Fabio. Teodoro’s servant Tristan stands in the background, providing much of the comic relief and serving as the catalyst to much of the action in the play.

The play follows the trials and tribulations of falling in love, with a comic twist.

Elena Levenson, sophomore in LAS and the play’s director, said lack of communication is key throughout the play.

“All problems in love stem from a lack of communication,” Levenson said. “If Teodoro, Diana, and Marcela could just be honest with each other, then a lot of things would be averted.”

Caroline Murdoch, sophomore in Engineering, plays Marcela. She said she loves the people in this play and enjoys every minute of her experience in the company.

“It’s a romantic comedy,” Murdoch said. “There are lots of love triangles and twists and turns in the plot. It’s lots of fun.”

That sense of enjoyment can be seen in all the actors through all their interactions, whether they are laughing and joking off stage or performing in outrageous period costumes, such as hats with plumes and corseted dresses on stage. The chemistry brings the old English dialogue to life, and this ensemble is sure to deliver a wonderful rendition of a little-known play.

The cast brings the audience into the world of 17th century Spain, if only for two hours.

Levenson said she truly loves the warmth of her cast and the unique interpretations each actor brings to their role.

“The cast has thought about their characters as real people,” Levenson said, “which is important because these are all themes that everybody can relate to. The audience might not understand going into it that this is stuff that happens to us. This is real.”

The fast-paced plot and witty banter is laced with subtlety and irony, which is what Jonathan Harden, sophomore in LAS and the male lead, Teodoro, likes best about it.

“The play is all about subtext,” Harden said. “It’s about saying one thing and meaning another. It’s all the inference, so it’s very fun. It still applies to modern day.”

Levenson said she is grateful to everyone who helped her make this production possible, especially David Johnston for allowing her to use his translation of the original Spanish play. In exchange for letting her use his translation, she will donate seven percent of the proceeds from the door to a charity supporting victims of domestic violence.

“The Dog in the Manger” will be the final play held in the McKinley Foundation, 809 S. Fifth Street, until its remodeling. It will run October 19 through the 21.