By KATHERINE NGUYEN
The curtain draws open to reveal Erik Diaz (Jr.), as Father Drobney, standing on the top of a set of stairs. He narrates the turmoils that have led him to live in the Unites States Embassy of an Iron Curtain country as the audience admires the setting stage of the play: the inside of an old-fashioned little mansion.
Don’t Drink the Water by Woody Allen, University High School’s fall play, is a satirical comedy that will be showing for its last nights on November 18th and 19th at 7pm in the Big Theatre. It depicts the incidents inside an American Embassy as the Ambassador, played by Sarika Mande (Jr.), leaves her incompetent son Axel Magee, portrayed by Isaac Kopstein (Jr.), in charge. Pandemonium strikes after the Hollander family, a neat trio of American tourists, is chased into the building by Communist police who suspect them of being spies for their America. When Axel accidentally reinforces the idea when being interrogated, the police surround the embassy.
Hysterical events happen one after the other as Axel continuously — for lack of a better term — screws up. Walter Hollander, played by Dylan Cecot (Sr.), digs a deeper hole for them with aggravating mishaps which wife Marion Hollander, played by Corinne Alsop (Sr.), does her best to mitigate. Their soon-to-be-wed daughter, Susan Hollander, played by Audrey Mitchell (Jr.), forges a secret romantic relationship with Axel, which creates an even more complex situation.
As a big fan of comedy and muted romance, I found Don’t Drink the Water to be an amazing production. The two-hour play contains both obvious and subtly clever jokes, allowing the audience to be continuously amused while keeping them on their toes.
The humor in the production is not only attributed to the problematic family and the confused temporary Ambassador, but also to various characters such as the assistant Ms. Burns, right-hand-man Kilroy, and the Sultan of Bashir, portrayed by Ana Fujimoto (Sr.), Amina Khelif (Jr.), and Neiman Araque (So.) respectively.
“I feel a personal connection to [my character],” Fujimoto said. “We both are dedicated to what we do.” Fujimoto’s animated facial expressions and matter-of-fact attitude contrasted sharply with the well-executed jokes contributed by the chef (Ellena Eshraghi (Jr.)) and Communist general Krojack (Dalton Nguyen (Jr.)) in authentic accents, which also had the audience reeling in laughter.
“The show is absolutely hilarious,” Eshraghi said. “The script provides the actors with many opportunities to create comedic moments. With every run through, I find myself noticing new jokes.”
While admiring the great execution from the cast, one can’t help but notice the intricacy of the set highlighted by impressive staging, lighting, and transitions. The stage is managed by Maxwell Han (Sr), lights by Donghyun (Banjo) Kim (Jr.), costume and hair by Norhan Abolail (Sr.) and Mia McCarey (Sr.), set and scenery by Han and Alice Liu (Sr.), props by Darrius Estigoy (Sr., and house by Jack Ren (Sr.)
“Most of our technical aspects are student run, built, and designed. We spend everyday after school and entire Saturdays with the same people,” Liu said. “You create bonds with everyone around and it’s very much like having a family outside of home.”
The production also received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the audience. Alina Guo (So.) said, “I loved the play. It was funny, cute, stress-relieving and comedic.”
The family of Don’t Drink the Water will have you laughing and entertained for $10 with ASB, $13 without and $20 for orchestra seats. Tickets can be bought online at http://www.seatyourself.biz/iusd or at the door for the closing night of the play.