Arts & Events

Looking Up, STF continues to impress

Up, one of several plays in Puget Sound’s annual Senior Theater Festival (STF), charmed audiences with exceptional performances, its simple, charming set and an entertaining yet thought-provoking balance of melodrama and humor.

Directed by senior Lukas Borsten, Up tells the story not of one character, but rather of an existence. As the audience sat under a circle of hundreds of red balloons, they were asked to ponder the question “If we can’t gravitate toward those things that make us feel ok, what else is there?” as stated in Borsten’s Director’s Notes.

The relationship between the characters of Walter and Helen Griffin illustrates the question: Should one constantly look up or rather stay on the ground? Walter Griffin, played by senior Jacob Tice and based on the real-life Larry Walters, is a creative and spontaneous character who would rather live in the now than plan for the future. However, his wife, Helen Griffin, played by senior Hanna Kregling, is overbearing, high-strung and constantly worrying about the future.

Throughout the play, Walter’s consciousness takes the form of Philippe Petit, played by senior Joshua Willis. Willis exhibits his diversity as an actor by not only playing the whimsical, French-speaking Petit, but also playing a hooded bully, a UPS delivery man and a firefighter.

In Up, the character of Petit embodies a life free from the concerns and restraints of every day life and the possibility of failure, which is essentially what every character in this play wants.

Ben Christie, who played Walter and Helen’s son Mikey, gave an amazing performance of any and every adolescent who has ever thought, “Nothing ever happens to me. I’m not good at anything.” Mikey quickly becomes friend with Maria, played by senior Lauren Anderson, and their friendship stimulates a change within him.

Anderson gave an impressive performance as Maria, who is by far the most outwardly humorous and animated of all the characters. However, Anderson’s performance was not restricted by her humor. Instead, it gave her character complexity and depth. As a pregnant teen mother, Anderson successfully created a character who is outspoken, sarcastic and even a bit crude, but who the audience likes nevertheless.

Although Up caused the audience to laugh, it also caused them to cry. During a heart-wrenching scene where Mikey realizes he has been abandoned and cheated by both Maria and her aunt, members of the audience were wiping their eyes. Christie and Anderson gave an amazing performance as two young adults who, despite very different life-experiences, discovered a sense of solidarity and belonging in each other.

Laugh or cry, Up caused the audience to imagine. To imagine a life of lost dreams and lost love. To imagine a life where nothing or everything happens. Then to imagine a life where dreams are reality and where it doesn’t matter whether all or nothing happens because life is merely perception. The reality that people create, invent or perceive for themselves is ultimately the reality they will inhibit. And when it seems like everything is falling apart, the only thing left to do is look up.