“Either we stay in this madhouse, or the world becomes one.”
This was a chilling line delivered by homecoming king and senior Avery Powell in his role as Johann Wilhelm Möbius in the Swiss play “The Physicists.”
“The Physicists,” written by Friedrich Dürrenmatt in 1961, is a horror-comedy that quickly turns dark when it asks pressing questions about the ethics of science.
The play was also the first at St. Mark’s in 34 years not put on by former Theater Director Rod Blaydes, who retired last spring. Marion Glorioso, who up until this year had been teaching the youngest students at St. Mark’s in drama, directed this show.
“It’s creatively stimulating: it takes a great deal of focus and energy and looking at something from all different angles, and I love doing that,” Glorioso said on the new job. Some of these angles included “really talking about character development, the story we’re trying to tell…what do we want the audience to experience?”
In addition to a new director, the casting process was also a bit different than in the past. Due to Blaydes’ retirement, a drama program that had encompassed both Hockaday and St. Mark’s during his tenure split into two different theater companies. While Hockaday will be putting on “Hay Fever” over SPC weekend (Nov. 4-7), “The Physicists” was performed in the Eamonn Lacey Black Box Theater at St. Mark’s over an appropriately creepy Halloween weekend.
Because of this split, some Hockaday students starred in “Hay Fever”, while others ventured to 10600 Preston Road to rehearse for “The Physicists.”
Senior Mercer Malakoff, along with junior Audrey Black, portrayed a nurse in the play, which took place in a mental institution; junior Cameron Giles played Powell’s ex-wife.
All three had emotionally charged roles throughout the first act. Their acting did not go unnoticed by fellow Hockaday students watching the play.
Sophomores Cate Ginsberg and Paloma Renteria are both involved in “Hay Fever” at Hockaday, but attended opening night of “The Physicists” to support the drama program at St. Mark’s.
In particular, Ginsberg enjoyed the cliffhangers and the musical interludes that accompanied certain scenes; Renteria, who stars in “Hay Fever” opposite Cistercian senior Jonathan Raroque, was enchanted by “The Physicists” from beginning to end.
“It’s a really spell-binding show,” Renteria said. “You keep wanting to know more and more about what happens.”
Fellow sophomore Grace Olsen agreed, saying Black’s performance in particular was very moving – but she loved seeing all three Hockadaisies in the play.
“They’re representing Hockaday really well,” Olsen said.
It wasn’t only underclassmen who were impressed with the Hockadaisies’ acting skills; seniors Ida Cortez and Madison Smith, who is a part of the set crew for “Hay Fever,” were among the audience.
“It’s hard to tell who’s the bad guy and who’s the good guy,” Cortez said, agreeing with Smith’s assessment of the show’s plotline as “psychological and convoluted.”
Apart from the Hockaday actresses, other highlights of the show included senior Brent Weisberg and junior Gray Wood as the mad physicists who think they are scientists of old (Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton, respectively). Third grader Oliver Rubarth as Giles and Powell’s youngest son was loved by the cooing audience as well.
All in all, opening night of “The Physicists” was a stellar look at science and the moral dilemmas that go hand in hand with genius. The show may have only had three Daisies, but it certainly gets four stars.