“Make Merry” brings humor and holiday cheer to campus

Review by Kendall Aronson, Campus Carrier Arts & Living Editor

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Sophomore Andy Sphar awkwardly hugs freshman Katie Cooley.

Make Merry (or How to Survive Your Family on Holidays) is an exciting and comedic family drama that leaves audiences thankful for family during the holiday season. The play was student-written by junior Jack Padgett and directed by Hannah Hammond.

Padgett crafted a relatable storyline by portraying of the dread sometimes associated with going home for the holidays. While exaggerated for dramatic effect, the play conveyed a heartwarming message of listening and trying to understand your family members during moments of reunion.

The setting was a nicely-crafted kitchen and living space in which the entirety of the play took place. There were some added touches, such as the snow that fell off the windows each time the door was shut which really showed attention to detail. The snow which blew each time the door opened was also a very nice touch, as well as the snowflake lights projected onto the stage for added effect.

Freshly-shaven sophomore Andy Sphar and freshman Katie Cooley were fantastic as Martin Bentley and his mother Margaret. Their onstage chemistry was evident from the moment Sphar entered the stage to be ecstatically hugged by Cooley while leaving a noticeable germ free distance in between. They had the most eccentric characters of the show, and they performed them perfectly. Every time either came onstage, a laugh arose from the audience.

Junior Tyler Hooper played Rob, the father of the Bentley family. Hooper did very well and was the strongest actor in the performance. He remained aloof and likable while contributing to the mystery and conflict of the story.

Sophomore Vanessa Delgado and freshman Holden Wynn played Kirsten and Danny, the other two Bentley siblings. While they both showed character development, their interactions and arguments were awkward at times. Despite this, they contributed greatly to the overall production.

The Christmas carolers were an interesting addition to the play. They seemed awkward at first, but as the play progressed and their spirits became more aligned with the feelings of the characters on stage, they became more comedic and meaningful.

The costumes for each character were clearly picked carefully. While the clothes themselves were not overly extravagant, they complimented the characters well. Margaret’s bright sweaters, Danny’s Gaston shirt and Martin’s different nerdy shirts were notable examples of this. The costumes helped the audience further understand the character’s way that the length of the production would have otherwise not allowed.

While other characters showed some minor development more realistically, Kirsten goes from swearing to never return home again to spending a month with her family. She completely changes due to some level of acceptance by her family members, which seems a bit unrealistic. While characters like Danny and Martin show brief glimpses of development with scenes like the one about Kirsten’s lack of piano lessons, they otherwise changed little.

In the climax of the play, when the lights were off and all of the characters were standing around Rob as he laid on the couch, a voice recording is played. This seemed unnecessary since the actors were all on stage and could have just said the lines in the dark. One of the things I liked most about the play was the attention to detail, from the oven mitt on the Christmas tree to when Martin finally genuinely hugs his father. These careful choices paid off in a positive way.

Overall, Make Merry is a great play. It is both funny and relatable; it’s the perfect thing to go see before returning home for the holidays. The show will run through Saturday, Dec. 2 in Sisters Theatre. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. every night with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Saturday.

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