By Alexandra Mandalakis
Fordham Experimental Theatre (FET), one of three theatrical clubs on campus, concluded their season with their second slot show this past weekend. “Bob: A Life in Five Acts” was a perfect way to close out the year. The show has it all: laughs, tears and everything in between.
“Bob,” written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, follows the life of Bob from birth to death. Bob (Teddy Lawlor, FCRH ’19) is born in the bathroom of a White Castle, to a mother named Helen (Annina Black, FCRH ’19), who then abandons him. He is raised by Jeanine (Erin Kiernan, FCRH ’19), a waitress convinced that a fortune cookie predicted her calling to raise Bob to be a great man. At a rest stop in Mound City, Missouri, Bob meets a plethora of people (an ensemble consisting of Lily Ochs, FCRH ’20, Omar Dolah, FCRH ’18, Katie Moore, FCRH ’19 and Simon Rodriguez, GSB ’20) whom he learns lessons from and listens to as they journey through life. At this rest stop, Bob encounters Amelia (Rita Padden, FCRH ’17) and falls in love.
On a journey across America, he meets his birth father Gunther Roy (Gavin Barba, FCRH ’17), a washed up circus animal trainer, and later encounters his birth mother, who inspires him to become the great man he was always destined to be. Throughout the story, every person in Bob’s life dies tragically, but he keeps traveling on. We last see Bob at a rest stop in Mexico, where the moral of his flea circus show is “no one is alone.”
“Bob” was carried out incredibly well. The use of the side stage as a backstage area was a clever way to use the Collins’ Blackbox Auditorium, as well as the two prop stations on either side of the stage, where ensemble members sat and picked up their costumes. This was an inclusive and creative way for the ensemble members to play various roles, while allowing the audience to take part in the humor behind it. Although the Blackbox is a tough space to work in due to its small size and simple technical aspects, the entire production team did a great job with the lighting, set and overall value of the show. Aside from the dimly lit center aisle during the fun ensemble dances, everything was big and bright.
Every actor involved with the show did an impressive job connecting with this quirky plot. Although the story was random and many of the lead actors were only involved in one of the five acts, the story flowed well. Lawlor did a fantastic job handling both the intensity and comedic moments that the character of Bob entails, creating a diverse and interesting character to watch unravel. The adaptability of the four ensemble members was also notable, as the play weighed so heavily on their ability to portray such unique roles throughout Bob’s life journey. All of this was executed beautifully under the direction of Patrick Hood, FCRH ’17, who thoroughly enjoyed his experience.
“While it was very time consuming and just devoured my schedule, the show and the people in it were just so great to work with that it didn’t feel like work, even though it did take a lot of work,” said Hood. “The best part of the process was working with such glorious people.”
Through its comedic story, “Bob: A Life in Five Acts” shows people that no matter what happens in life, everyone has someone to lean on. It portrays a life story of a man who experiences so much tragedy in life, but remains strong and keeps moving forward with pride. “If there is one thing I want people to take away from Bob, it would be that we are all incredibly lucky to be alive in the chaos of the universe,” said Hood. “We are all capable of great things, even (and especially) if you have no idea what you want to do yet.”
FET has recently announced their first slot show for next semester, entitled “Getting Out.”