The topic of death is something we all try to ignore. Is this feigned ignorance denial? Or is it an instinct, because we fear what we cannot understand, see, or judge? “The Shadow Box”, a play written by an actor Michael Cristopher which premiered in 1977, delves into the questions one generally does not want to ask when death starts knocking on their doorstep.
Directed by Ty Sims and starring Elizabeth Craswell, Evan Christopher, Sion Shauny Jang, Vincent Agustus Pham, Rebecca Prows, Jennifer Weisner, Ross Johnson, Savannah Shaffer, and Corey Grant respectively, “The Shadow Box” at Bellevue College was completely student run, student produced and student performed on campus. Two months went into this project, and it became one of the main line-ups of performances through the drama department, with access to the Stop Gap theater, and selling $5 tickets through brownpapertickets and at the door.
Immediately upon entering the theater – 15 minutes until Act One began, I saw that it would be a little tricky to find a good enough set to review this play as most all the good seats were taken. Luckily I managed a front row, left side collapsable. The stage set itself made me start wondering what this play was going to cover right when I looked at it. I knew mildly what the plot was about – three terminally ill people and those they knew, having to deal with death in three separate cottages located in a sort of blindingly perfect hospital get-away. Three walls complete with their own stages sat before me, as parts of three different cottages, all with their own taste in furniture.
Three different worlds. Three different personalities.
The lighting was well lit for the middle space, dim for the third, and spotlighted for the first with natural patterns, which was an outside porch, adding to the unspoken description to the audience of where they should believe they were looking at. It was an interesting way to go, and it made for a believable set as a whole. The characters themselves were each unique in their own way, telling different aspects of such a difficult topic to tackle. The casting was very, very well done, and each actor on stage felt completely in the shoes of the character they had earned. The worlds wove between each other as characters borrowed one anothers’ rooms in a trick to make each cottage feel larger than the set allowed, making the stories almost live within each other.
The play also had me asked a lot of questions; were people living their lives right in today’s world? What would you do personally if you didn’t have any time left? It showed how people differ when dealing with tough situations. Brought depth to relationships, and I heard, for myself, a key set of morals when the end came. Don’t take life for granted. Enjoy your memories. It’s never too late for forgiveness. And most importantly, don’t wait for anything. Live your life the way you want to. A very well done play for such dark themes, I give “The Shadow Box” three stars and congratulate the crew and cast for a job well done.