“The Antipodes” analyzes storytelling within a story

The first mainstage show of the school year, “The Antipodes,” started its nine-show run on Friday at the Berrie Center. The play is directed by Dara Malina, an adjunct theatre professor at Ramapo, and is written by 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama, Annie Baker.

“The Antipodes” centers around a group of eight colleagues visibly collaborating in a writer’s room, trying to come up with the next big television show or film idea, even though it’s never explicitly stated. The audience sees these individuals seated around a big, shiny conference room table sharing story after story with various snack breaks, revelations and epiphanies sprinkled in.

Throughout the show, everyone in the room is emotionally exploited, having to share personal stories to move the show along. But what are the rules? Are there any? And what’s a “good” story? What are these colleagues looking for? What ensues is monstrous. These writers might have once been in search of a grand story but, eventually, come to actually be living within it.

The show has audience members questioning if they have any good stories worth sharing and how they would respond to some of the questions asked of these writers. Could I have the next big idea? And how is something chosen as good versus bad? This show explores the many questions we have surrounding life through storytelling and leaves some questions open to interpretation.

Some performers stand out in their roles, including Reese Pasquarello, a sophomore theater major with a concentration in directing and stage management who plays Sandy, the boss and executive manager of this writing project. Sandy is blatant in what he wants to get achieved but also gives his employees the creative freedom to come up with any of their own ideas.

In addition to Pasquarello, Claudia Hastings, senior theater major with a concentration in acting, plays Sarah. Sarah is Sandy’s receptionist who throughout the play seems eager to answer anyone’s questions but is usually only ever seen taking lunch orders or restocking seltzers. Fortunately, later on in the show, she too gets to share some great stories which reveal some of her own character development.

Towards the end of the show, it’s implied that even in dark times, stories are the things that will get us through. Stories can help uncover the next big hit in the film or television world or they can be the ghost stories shared at a campfire with friends. They could even get these writers through the many hours they spent working together.

“The Antipodes” will make you as a viewer ponder whether any of your own stories could meet these horrific circumstances that these writers were looking for. I would recommend seeing this show while you can since it closes on Oct. 29. Although it may leave you with more questions than answers, it is a show that will make you pause and critically analyze your own life and the stories you may want to share.



Photo courtesy of Mason Murphy.