Library is a series of firsts: first play of the season, first play performed in the King’s library, first student-written play put up in a season (this year, at least). The writer-director Darrin Carr was last seen at the Best of Fest Infringement with his bizarre little play, Stargirl, which simultaneously made the most and least amount of sense.
He describes this play as an exploration of his “weird little ideas about humanity”. The result is an interaction between two individuals in a library. Carr explores the space between stolen glances and awkward dialogue by personifying the internal monologues of both characters using another set of actors. The result is quippy and vulnerable, and the audience finds themselves cringing alongside the two counterparts.
Robert Halperin plays Clive, a shy library clerk who is only moderately irritated by the fact that he has what he considers to be an incredibly boring job. Moments of silence were just as revealing for Halperin as moments of dialogue, who has mastered the micro-expression. Saunder Waterman, last seen as the tormented Percy Shelley in Bloody Poetry, is C, Clive’s internal dialogue. Physically towering over the rest of the cast, Waterman is bold and suave. His easy grace was a compliment to Halperin’s comparative stumbling. The dynamic between the two seemed effortless. When Halperin knocked something over, Waterman was there to smoothly pick it up.
Across the stage sits Hannah MacDougall, who was endearing as Marina. It’s easy to empathize with the shy Marina as she struggles to write a paper on a topic that she has no real interest in. Sofia Zaman, as Marina’s internal dialogue M, is charming and expressive, as she flits across the stage in a manic flurry of little tangents. Watching Zaman and MacDougall riff back and forth felt like watching a pair of best friends at Sunday brunch.
When experiencing a piece of theatre, the actor is typically limited with how they communicate their inner motivation.The persistent internal dialogue allowed the audience to connect more fully with the characters, as they see the thought process that goes into every action.
Though Library is a strong start to this season, it suffers from its minimal rehearsal time. A number of the unison lines felt slightly out of sync, and a few moments of physicality fell flat. In a production that relies so heavily on synchronization of movement and voice, any mistake loosens the production as a whole.
Carr walks the fine line between pop-culture references (he has M correctly name the Muppet’s Christmas Carol as the best adaption of the Dickens novel) and real world emotions.
While the dialogue is quick and uncomplicated, the script manages to unearth a universal human truth within a situation that has the potential to be dismissed as trite, or unimportant. It was easy to accept that these two innocuous individuals had such expansive internal dialogues, because the words they were saying seemed so familiar. In your own head, it’s perfectly alright to laugh at your own jokes. Carr has a gift for finding poetry within the mundane.
This is a play about our absent-minded wanderings within our own imaginations. And though the action is driven by the comedic will-they-or-won’t-they tension, this play is not just about romance. It’s about the friendship that we have with ourselves, which might just be the most beautiful love story that you could ever tell.