The Allentown Report

April 4, 2004

When I bumped into Corinne at the Port Authority bus terminal, she didn’t seem amused by the fact that I didn’t see the final performance of the Cooper student production on Friday. When I re-bumped into her at the Wescosville bus terminal, she seemed amused by the fact that I was in Bumblefuck, Pennsylvania to see the Muhlenberg student production (more on that later). I hope her foot is doing better.

After a little walking tour of picturesque Allentown, Marika and I lunched at some Chinese place, then headed over to the legendary Giant (more on that later) to pick up circus peanuts and mixers (more on those later), whereupon we returned to her dorm. We chilled for a bit and rented some movies for later, and then it was time for the dutiful little sound board operator to go and do her pre-show preparations and what have you. This left your faithful narrator with an hour to kill before showtime.

My first idea, watching some NCAA Final Four action, was shot down by the fact that there seemed to be some kind of semiformal event going on in the student union. I wandered around for a while, taking a few pictures of stuff that I thought might photograph well (see below). Then inspiration struck.



I still had 45 minutes or so before I needed to be in the theatre, exchanging my ticket for the opportunity to sit in a chair and be entertained. Surely, I thought, it would be possible for me to navigate to Giant and back in that time, despite the fact that I hadn’t really been paying any attention to the directions when I walked there earlier and the fact that it was dark out already so I wouldn’t have recognized anything anyway. One very obvious wrong turn and several more slightly subtler wrong turns later, I found myself buying some Gatorade at an Exxon, losing hope of ever making my way to Giant in time to make my way back in time.

Then the cashier informed me that Giant was basically right around the corner. I wasted no time in trespassing on a few people’s property, cutting through their back yards, and scaling a hill and a guardrail. “Strip mall with Giant franchise,” I announced to nobody in particular the strip mall with a Giant franchise, “I have arrived.” Soon enough, I was making my way out of the Giant floral department with my victory in hand (hey, sound board operators need love too). I went back to Muhlenberg, following a marginally less-circuitous and -inefficient path than I’d taken a few minutes earlier. Then it was time for…

New Voices 2004
  • The New Voices Menagerie of Mystery
    Interesting idea, and done very well. The lighting and placards felt perfect, and everybody stayed in character perfectly. Three-shrieking-heads and dog-boy, in particular, deserve kudos for being so perfect.
  • The Journal
    I liked the Prelude a lot, and the play functioned nicely as a continuing narrative extending through the various themes of the evening’s performance (and the levity it provided between the comparatively much heavier later pieces was certainly appreciated), but as a play it really didn’t do anything for me. The gay stuff just seemed silly. Though Halley Cianfarini, I must say, played the fortune teller with tremendous aplomb.
  • What’s the Story?
    A very fun play to watch. Gary Onomotopoeia is an awesome character, the cartoon-style fight scene was very well done, and the multiple layers of meta-play were amusing and not overbearing.
  • Holidaze
    Probably my favorite part of the show. The blurb by the author printed in the program described it as a ‘comedy’; I feel it necessary to register my disagreement with that assessment. Sure there were funny lines, but as a whole it deals with some pretty serious (and mind-numbingly terrifying) issues. It’s a play by, for, and about people in my approximate station in life, and I liked it. Also, Uncle Bob kicked ass and Christopher Shepard played him to the fucking hilt.
  • Beyond Our Control
    Certainly thought-provoking. I smelled the gay rape coming pretty early, and — whoops, looks like I spoiled the climax for you. If you plan on seeing this play and want to be surprised by it, I recommend against reading the previous sentence. Sorry. Anyway, it’s a nice character study and the whole people-taking-turns-delivering-lines presentation was effective. The character of Madison seemed underexplored, though.
  • Stained
    Another gritty drama. It was certainly well-acted, but the dialogue felt just a little stilted and artificial. That’s only a minor quibble, though.

In other news, the costuming was very spiffy for the whole show, what with each play getting its own distinct colour palette and everything. The use of “We Suck Young Blood” and “High Hopes” as background music made me happy, and to my untrained ear it sounded like all the sound cues went off without a hitch. ;)

Afterwards, the mixers were mixed, a little drunken dialing was had, metal demonstrated its power in forming friendships, and I had a flashback to mid-February.

On the bus ride back to the city, the guy sitting next to me kept leaning his head on my shoulder in his sleep. After a literal shrug availed me of nothing, I shrugged metaphorically and fell asleep myself, with the sound of Menomena in my ears.


If you were too lazy to read the above, here’s a little summary: is full of lies. I don’t know why I keep going back.

Song of the Moment: «Method Acting» — Bright Eyes


  • Yeah, both the Weather Channel and its online equivalent can suck my nuts. When I was a wee mite, they had forecasted “a small chance of flurries” on my birthday—November the 15th. When no flurries came, I boycotted TWC for… a few years, I believe.

    Your first picture—the one of the Muhlenberg building, is nice—what with all its complementary colors and blah.


    So what do you think of Giant? I keep forgetting they don’t have those where you hail from.

  • Marika says:

    Yay for Muhlenberg and New Voices 2004! Thanks for coming, Mart. I love your little review. :-) So maybe Allentown isn’t so bad after all?…

  • Mart says:

    Punamütsike: I like that picture too. I’d have liked it better if it hadn’t come out so incredibly blurry, but at least it doesn’t look quite as atrocious in those small versions. Also, Giant strikes me as being essentially equivalent to any other supermarket chain in the world.

    Marika: Thanks for having me! I managed to have a perfectly nice time despite the fact that Allentown is, in fact, ‘so bad’. ;)

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