Written By: Ismenia Diego and John Schilling
The Dept. of Theater’s Spring 2021 production season continued last week with “@muse_me,” a show written and devised by The Myth and Memes Ensemble at Brooklyn College. Directed by Zachary Tomlinson, “@muse_me” features a group of young adult friends sitting in a diner and exchanging stories with one another. As the play progresses, each person creates a quirky, fictitious story to tell the rest of the group.
Although the concept was cliche, the way the stories were presented was interesting and the incorporation of music in some scenes gave the play life. Accompanied with music, the play’s visuals and the use of humor made the proceedings much more lively. Those who enjoy aesthetic, art, and comedy will likely find this part of the play compelling.
Another strong aspect of the production was the overall design of the show and the backgrounds used to bring scenes to life. This was particularly impressive considering the circumstances of having to film remotely. For instance, the main setting of the play was a diner so the production used a picture of a table in a diner for its background, and whenever a character came into the scene, a bell would ring, indicating that the person just walked through the diner’s door.
This attention to detail was not only admirable, but it made the scene more life-like as if the characters were actually in a dining setting. As a result, I felt like I was actually watching the play unfold in person rather than virtually, which provided a sense of normalcy.
Understandably, the show was far from perfect in certain aspects. Though the scenes were carried out realistically, the transitions from one scene to the next were not as smooth as they could have been. The scenes would suddenly change without any build-up or an obvious explanation as to what was happening, which made the transitions especially confusing.
There were also some flaws in the portrayal of certain characters, including some character traits that depicted common, played-out stereotypes, which proved to be tiresome to watch. Despite this, however, some other characters succeeded in delivering important messages that many people can currently relate to.
For instance, one issue addressed within the play was the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly everyone has been affected by this pandemic in some way, so the incorporation of this issue is a great way of connecting with one’s audience.
However, the most praiseworthy aspect of the entire production was the team that made it all possible. From the casting of the production to the ensemble that brought the play to life, it was refreshing to see “@muse_me” since it was the vision of a team of Brooklyn College students.
Per the show’s program, the director’s note details just how “@muse_me” came to be after a group of artists banded together in common cause to create something new and something they were passionate about.
“We were all interested in the subject matter of ancient mythology and contemporary internet culture, but we were more deeply invested in a way of working: collaborative, non-hierarchical, and fueled by our multidisciplinary creative capacities,” the note reads. “We trusted that, together, we could create something from nothing.”
Despite a few imperfections and shortcomings, this passion for the play can be felt throughout its duration. When you have a team that actually likes the production they are putting on, it makes you appreciate it more as an audience member, regardless of what you might think of the plot or approach.