As autumn graces Sonoma State’s campus, so does the fall season of the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance. Leading the way is the dark comedy “Blur,” written by Melaine Marnich and directed by Jennifer King.
The play follows Dot Di Prima, a young woman who is rapidly becoming blind due to a hereditary illness passed down by her mother. Throughout her young adult life we see her progressively going through bigger and thicker glasses in order to still see the world around her.
Her mother is in denial that she passed down this horrible illness to her own daughter, and instead conveniently blames her father who isn’t even in the picture.
Dot seeks some guidance through religion and her very open-minded priest (who is okay with drugs, drinks and birth control), but doesn’t seem to dwell on her condition as much as her overbearing mother does.
After meeting and falling for a very eccentric boy named Joey who works for the zoo, she slowly starts to become more of a rebellious teenager, breaking the once intimate bond with her mother.
Her mother grows very concerned about the new friends she’s hanging with, under the impression that they aren’t really her friends but are instead maliciously making fun of Dot and her illness behind her back.
The blinder Dot becomes, the more she goes about trying to adapt to her lack of vision. Attending braille school to try and get a feel for the language, she’s taken aback by a blind man who is filled with valuable knowledge about living without sight, but comes across as a bit creepy when he starts hitting on her.
When Dot tells Joey about the blind man, Joey becomes very defensive about his own masculinity which causes the two of them to have their first fight.
While the play focuses mainly on Dot’s blindness, the real story is about her overcoming such an obstacle while trying to figure out who she is at the same time.
The scenery looked to be a graytoned Piet Mondrian painting, with some pieces being completely transparent and others a bit fuzzy. Transitions between scenes adapted well within the setting, for one couldn’t imagine this play taking place on a bigger stage than the black box theatre.
But neither the setting or the scenery is the main reason to see this show, for it’s the captivating performances by a professional cast.
Usually in any play or production there’s the one actor who doesn’t feel on par with the rest of the cast, but in “Blur” every performance was absolutely mesmerizing.
JoAnn Amos’ portrayal of Dot, with her childlike innocence to full-fledged rebellious young woman, was such a joy to watch, for her performance was completely powerful and moving consistently throughout the show.
Lauren Luedtke’s portrayal as Dot’s mother was both captivating and hilarious at the same time, keeping that same intense energy in every scene featuring just the two of them. Their dynamic as mother and daughter was entirely believable and flowed so naturally.
The supporting cast featuring Alexx Oddenino as Frankie and Phil Ferrero as Joey was equally brilliant, giving that distinct ‘band of misfits’ type of charisma to an already bold performance.
Last, but certainly not least, was the impressive multiple performances by Kyle Ryan, who played Father O.O., the ophthalmologist and the blind man at the braille school. Each character Ryan portrayed brought something different and new to the scene and no two characters were alike.
“Blur” definitely kicked down the doors to the theatre department’s fall season and made it crystal clear that the remaining productions this year have a lot to live up to.
Four performances remain, running from Oct. 23 – 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Admission is free for Sonoma State University students. Regular admission prices are $10 for non-SSU students and seniors; $15 for SSU Faculty and Staff; and $17 for standard admission. Tickets also sold at the door one hour prior to curtain and are available at the Sonoma State University box office and online.