Latest play spotlights themes of family

Freshmen Kristin Miller (left) and Nicholas Granato (right) play Shirley Talley and John Landis in the Marshall Theatre production of the “Fifth of July” on Nov. 3. Joel Ray/Photo editor

Though the theatre was not full, the buzz of conversation from the crowd filled the air. As the crowd slowly filed in, a big band number drifted from the speakers.

“Fifth of July,” written by Lanford Wilson and directed by Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre arts, is set in 1977, on Independence Day.

A group of old college friends and several family members return home to Lebanon, Mo., so they can scatter their uncle’s ashes.

The young cast, comprised of mostly freshmen, worked to join their collaborative efforts to make the play shine.

The audience found the play positively entertaining, engaging with the actors on stage by responding with laughter and applause.

The oldest actor in this play is junior Chris Forrer who plays the character Kenneth Talley, Jr. Talley is a gay Vietnam Vet who lives in his family’s farmhouse with his boyfriend, Jed Jenkins.

Forrer said that when he first read through the script he was a little shocked. “There wasn’t anything that I could relate to,” Forrer said. “I thought it was going to be very challenging.”

He said that the more he got into the play though, the more he learned from it.

“I definitely think I have more in common with the character than I first realized,” Forrer said.

Talley’s boyfriend, Jed Jenkins, is played by freshman Jeremy Odden. Although Odden is a freshman, he was recently in Linfield’s production of Chekhov’s “The Proposal.”

When commenting on the character that he played, Odden said he most enjoyed it because, “He [Jed] is a quiet, observant person. It was really fun because I could be really laid back and relaxed. I could look like I wasn’t really paying attention, because that is how my character felt.”

He said the family relationships were an important part of the story that the audience should take away.

“The undertone that John [Landis] is Shirley [Talley]’s father is really important,” Odden said. “During the preview audience, several people didn’t get that. We had to change a few things to make that more understandable.”

Forrer agreed that family was an important aspect of this play.

“People fight, but it’s because they love each other deeply,” Forrer said. “Their arguing comes from wanting what is best; it’s because they care.”

Freshman Kristin Miller also brought up the aspect of family, but on a more personal
level to the actors.

“I loved the cast,” Miller said. “Everyone got along really well, like a big family. We are always laughing and dancing around.”

On a more serious note, she said this play can definitely teach people about the importance of our veterans.

“We need to see things from their perspective,” Miller
said. “How things affect them and their lives.”

She said there are a lot of ways viewers can relate this play to the present day, dealing with soldiers who are coming home from Iraq.

Walking away from the foyer, Forrer called out, “Tell all your friends about [the play]!”

Students are encouraged to attend the Veteran’s Day performance Nov. 11 with a post-show discussion from Vietnam Vet and Linfield alumnus, Bob Ferguson.

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Lydia Driver/
For the Review
Lydia Driver can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.

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