The coronavirus continues unabated. A lot of local theatre talent has been sitting around waiting as patiently as possible for an opportunity to perform. Theatre has been extremely difficult to transfer to the internet in the age of COVID. There have been numerous attempts to bring the feel of theatre to the screen. Some attempts have proven to be better than others. The Masked Collective did a truly admirable job of delivering a completely new, locally-written drama to the screen in the premiere of No “Serious Stuff.” The two-person drama written by local playwright Emily Elliott is endearingly captivating. It’s a one-hour conversation between two friends over Zoom.
Sarah Zapiain and Deena Turkomani play a couple of friends who haven’t talked in a long time. Zapiain cleverly treads the dichotomy of a self-confident vulnerability as Billie. It was Billie’s idea for the two to get together for a video chat. She has a list of possible topics that both could discuss if anything becomes too awkward. Turkomani is charmingly scattered as her friend Parker, who has a very rough series of months behind her. Things start-off warm and pleasantly social, but they gradually descend in to emotional territory far too murky for any list of topics to adequately defend against.
Director Emmie D’Amico has done a hell of a job pulling together a very organic feel between two actors who are never allowed to be seen together directly. It’s all one scene. It’s a one-hour video chat that plays out in realtime. All that’s ever revealed about the two is revealed directly in the course of their conversation. It’s simple and refreshing. Zapiain and Turkomani have developed a very organic emotional dynamic. Elliott has crafted dialogue that feels very real. There are very few moments in the course of the drama that feel like they’re scripted. D’Amico has allowed for poignant silences to occasionally punctuate something that has a great sense of depth and vitality about it.
There’s a kind of a murky emotional power in a conversation that’s written entirely to be performed in video chat. Serious two-person dramas onstage have so many distractions. No “Serious Stuff” is a crushingly intimate portrait of two people. It’s rare that two actors are looking directly at the audience in a talking-heads format for an entire hour in an earthbound emotional drama. It’s been so very, very difficult for theatre to deal with the challenges of internet drama. Emily Elliott’s No “Serious Stuff” fully embraces the opportunities presented by live online drama.
The recorded video of The Masked Collective’s No “Serious Stuff” is now available on YouTube. The video can't be embedded in this page, but it CAN be viewed here. (The show is under an hour. It’s a two-hour video with a long title card. The actual show starts at the 01:05:36 mark.)
For more information about this and more, visit the Masked Collective online.