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Humpty Dumpty

  Humpty Dumpty
ICC Theatre Department
  April 18-19 and April 23 - 27
By Stan Strickler

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall”:  We are all familiar with this childhood nursery rhyme, and Eric Bogasian uses that to great effect in his play, “Humpty Dumpty” which depicts the fall of people left to their own fears. A great fall and a shattering of their lives becomes apparent as their life unravels and like the egg in the nursery rhyme they crack.

The plays opens at a beautiful summer cabin in the north woods (perhaps northern New England) surrounded by trees and a cheery interior. Into this idyllic scene come two couples, Max and Nicole, and Troy and Spoon. They are on vacation, wanting to get away from their hectic big city lives. Max is a writer supported by his agent wife. Troy makes movies, and Spoon leads the life of glamour in Hollywood. As they enter all of them receive cell phone calls reflecting their busy lives. It is quite obvious that they lead urban fast-paced lives, and their desire to get away to a more rural environment seems desirable. As they arrive they discuss the beautiful views and the crisp air of the November stay. However their lives are altered terribly as the electricity goes out early in their trip, and they are stranded for over two weeks. Their veneer of civilization starts to crack as they endure the hardships of no phone reception, no gasoline and a constant diet of eggs. Eventually all of the characters’ social veneer begins to disintegrate leading to tragic results.

Robin Berkley has assembled an excellent cast who ably dissolve into a kind of madness as their world begins to change. Ryan Groves as Max who planned the vacation shows his desire for a quiet vacation as the play opens. He is enamored of the scenery and shows his delight in the remote location. His descent into madness is very convincing as he argues with his wife, and eventually gives in to his fears. Also outstanding is Arianna Morgan as Nicole, the high-maintenance demanding agent. She shouts to her underlings and her fears grow more and more pronounced as she is convinced that the electrical outage is caused by terrorists and they may be the only people left.

Also quite good are Ethan Johnson as Troy and Hannah Gidcumb as Spoon. Ethan sometimes talks a little fast, but I think it is also a mark of his character since he is quite the wheeler-dealer Hollywood type. Hannah is very effective when she returns to the cabin in the second act, having run into trouble after she had tried to escape from the confines of the cabin. Her agony is quite well done. Logan Henderson as Nat the caretaker of the cabin is quite capable in an extremely understated role. He doesn’t have much to do until late in the play. He begins as the helpful neighbor, supplying the couples with food and water, but as time goes on he arouses suspicions partly because the other characters supply those suspicions. The ending of the play finally gives him a real acting opportunity, and he rises to the occasion ably and well.

Robin Berkely wisely chose not the have blackouts between scenes in this eight scene play that lasts over the course of a little over two weeks. Had she had blackouts I think it would have been more difficult to follow the action of the play. Instead the characters all stay on stage throughout every scene change accompanied by music that grows more and more ominous as the play progresses. They even stay on stage during the intermission acting out everyday occurrences. This decision helps to speed the play along, allows for quick scene changes since the actors remove all necessary props during the changes. The music and lighting changes also help the audience keep track of the changing time frames and the use of the calendar to note changing days and weeks is also quite helpful.

Another standout in this play is the beautiful set designed by Chris Gray. It is on two levels with doorways to various upstairs rooms. It evokes very realistically an upscale vacation home in the north woods. The trees surrounding the cabin also add and air of mystery and foreboding. Lighting design by Rob Fulton is also quite effective as the play progress from day to night often during the scene dissolves. And the fireplace lighting is very effective casting flickering shadows on the rear wall. All in all this was an intense theatrical experience created by a great director, and capable cast and great technical staff.

Humpty Dumpty continues April 23 - 26 at 7:30 pm. and on April 27 at 2:30 pm at the ICC Performing Arts Center on the East Peoria Campus.  Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the ICC Box Office, by calling 309-694-5136 or online at

Posted April 21, 2014

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