Melancholy Play

April 1-3, 2010

written by Sarah Ruhl
directed by Marissa Bergman ’11

Kresge Experimental Theatre, Watson Fine Arts


Tilly Caroline Osborne ’13
Frank Rory Sullivan ’10
Frances Tess Jones ’10
Lorenzo the Unfeeling
Robert Abrams ’12
Joan Charis Chu ’12
Juliana Elizabeth Sorgi ’13


Marissa Bergman ’11
Stage Manager
Christopher Dubis ’11
Technical Designer
Dan Lanctot ’11
Assistant Stage Manager/
Properties Manager
Sharina Washington ’13
Right Hand Lady/Almond Bearer Tilney Brune ’12
Jessica Weinstein ’11
Will Cohen ’13
Posters and Programs Jenny Brum ’12
Hair Hag
Michelle Van Akin ’13


Director’s Note

“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

Love in a Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The wonderful thing about Sarah Ruhl’s play is the collision of opposing ideas. The world of the Melancholy Play is both silly and sexy. It straddles the line between melodrama and comedy, two genres that are usually worlds apart. In my direction of the play, I try to emphasize this polarity. Yellow flowers, for example, are symbolic of happiness in Melancholy Play. In reality, yellow flowers are a universal symbol of mourning coinciding with Tilly’s emotional state. Tilly’s emotional change is reflected in her dress: a happy change in her signals terror in her friends. For Tilly’s friends, happiness is like a disease, and the characters of this play abhor Tilly’s manic joy and fall in love with her sorrow.

Sarah Ruhl’s characters are not meant to be realistic, but we feel for them all the same. They are exaggerations, human embodiments of extreme emotion. They are sad, happy, lovesick and jealous. But these emotions are grounded somewhere real in the actors. Otherwise, the characters of Melancholy Play would be false and one-dimensional. The actors have done an amazing job grounding themselves in their characters while maintaining the essence of Sarah Ruhl’s farce. Although the characters are overemotional, we can empathize with them. We understand their struggle to find the one person (and the circle of friends) whom they truly love and who brings them both joy and melancholy.

When I read Melancholy Play for the first time, I could smell the words coming off the page. The play evokes the five senses. You taste Lorenzo’s marzipan. You feel the hem of Frank’s trousers, and the softness of Frances’ hair. You hear emotion through Julianna’s viola. You see Tilly in the shadow of a window. And maybe, just maybe, the scent of bitter almonds….

—Marissa Bergman ’11