College play to probe, poke fun at yuppie life

March 02, 1994|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Contributing Writer

Take one single woman, her gay brother, a successful architect and his best friend (also gay), a waitress and a schizophrenic homeless woman in Manhattan, and what you get is "Eastern Standard," a play by Richard Greenberg that sometimes questions, sometimes laughs at the "yuppie" lifestyle.

Western Maryland College will present this adult play that also examines gay and homeless issues at 8 p.m. tomorrow through Sunday on the understage of Alumni Hall.

" 'Eastern Standard' tells the story of six people who meet by accident. By the end of the story, two couples are formed, and the two who brought them together are out of the picture," said Josh Selzer, guest director for the play.

"It deals with homelessness, AIDS and the yuppie lifestyle -- more of an exaggerated yuppie -- wealthy, sophisticated, educated, well-brought-up, in their late 20s."

The story starts out in a restaurant where Phoebe and Stephen have been eating lunch almost every day for three weeks.

Aware that they've been watching each other, the two are finally united by a homeless woman, May, who starts a ruckus with the waitress, Ellen.

At the time of May's disruption, Phoebe has been joined by her brother Peter, and Stephen by his friend Drew. After May has been removed, Drew and Peter have met, as have Phoebe and Stephen.

The restaurant conversations between Phoebe and Peter, and between Drew and Stephen reveal funny, poignant, frightening, but surprisingly perceptive opinions about the way the well-to-do class lives -- from their jobs and usefulness to society to relations with their parents regarding the way they live.

"It's really a hard part -- I think it's difficult, it's emotional," said Kevin Lundell, a Western Maryland freshman who plays Peter. "A lot of my part is telling the two people I love [that I have AIDS] and trying to keep it from others.

"I tell my sister first, then I'm kind of forced to tell my partner later because he's wondering why I won't start a relationship with him, and I'm running out of excuses," he said.

The part is difficult for him, Mr. Lundell said, because he hasn't had any experience with anybody who has AIDS. He must, in the play, show the emotional battle within a person who has AIDS, as he tries to cope with a fatal disease and with people around him who know his secret.

While Peter is dealing with AIDS, he and the other three characters are also struggling with their need to do good in the world.

In Act II, the four of them have brought May to a beach house on

Long Island and given her medicine and decent food.

"The weekend calms her down, but gives her a false sense of hope when she realizes she's being used as an experiment by the others to make themselves feel better," said Shana Burdick, a junior who plays May.

"They realize it's not feasible what they want to do, but they feel

good about themselves while they're trying to help May."

Rounding out the cast are R. Reid Wraase as Stephen, Dara Breitkopf as Phoebe, Eric Lyga as Drew and Lynn Turner as the waitress.

"The play sort of celebrates the accidental happiness of our lives," said Mr. Selzer, the director. "If it hadn't been for the attack of the homeless woman, the others might

never have met. The play has a very nice optimistic ending; it's definitely hopeful."

Because of its language, the play is not suitable for children.

Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults.

The Alumni Hall box office will open a half hour before each evening's performance.

Reservations: 857-2599.

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