REVIEW: Rowan Lab Theater’s “One Night” tackles tough issues (Spoilers)

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As Rowan’s Lab Theatre shows regularly do, “One Night” expertly tackled social issues in a creative, atypical way this past weekend.

In the Studio Theatre in Bunce Hall, Rowan’s dark, small black box, “One Night” began in low, red lighting and depicted a scene in which the show’s main character, Alicia G., was abused during her time in Iraq as a war veteran.

The audience is led to believe this instance is just one flashback throughout the show. Both Alicia, played by Adrianna Santilli, and her companion Horace Lloyd, played by Mike Grubb, relive memories from their time as Iraqi Freedom soldiers during their one-night stay at a motel owned by Meny, played by Kerry Jules.

Both suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder, but for very different reasons. Alicia’s disorder is of consequence from a gang rape by four fellow soldiers in Iraq. When she reported the incident, she was often chastised for doing so by interviewers (Olivia Foster). When Alicia entered into flashbacks, she hardly separated those instances from reality.

Santilli shows this well; her moments of intense panic caused such an emotional shift that it reflected on the audience. Attendees were often visibly uncomfortable in many of Alicia’s moments of flashbacks and stress.

Grubb’s character, who later is revealed to be the final person who raped Alicia, is a mysterious, desperate soul. Grubb plays on Horace’s sneaky motives. The audience doesn’t quite trust the character throughout the show, and his role in Alicia’s rapes comes as a surprise, but a reasonable one. Although Grubb’s character is not a ‘good guy,’ by the end, it’s hard to tell if he’s good or bad throughout the course of the show.

Both Grubb and Santilli demonstrated well the desperation of their characters. Both, who are homeless, clearly had problems of their own, which both encompass strongly.

Meny, the motel manager, is another uncomfortable, unsettling character in some less-than-ideal circumstances. He does not provide comfort or stability as a character, which Jules demonstrates astutely.

This is not to underscore the rest of the cast members, who each played their respective roles in character appropriate to “One Night’s” theme.

It is clear that student director Kelsey Romeo put time, effort and thought into this production. Topics as heavy as these might often be poorly executed or haphazardly done, but this is far from what happened with “One Night.” Both stage direction and characters’ presences were calculated and well-executed.

The hope, we’re to assume, was that audience members walked away from this show with a deeper understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder and further empathy for those affected by rape. The show speaks for so many who’ve been silenced.

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