Play Your Part’s “The Originals”

Theatre is a media meant to explore to controversy. From Oleanna to Spring Awakening, audiences can confront greater societal issues by intimately viewing poignant characters and situations. Because of the subjectivity of a play’s intended message versus personal interpretation, it becomes an arduous task to criticize controversial media, without taking a political stance.

In association with the GSBA Scholarship fund, Play Your Part has released “The Originals.” Written by Brandon Force, the play centers around five characters in a boarding school. Three students are called in for questioning after having written identical essays, period for period, semi-colon for semi-colon. Through this interrogation, these characters are implied to have partaken in abuse ranging from physical to substance. It is a fascinating exploration of how privilege manifests itself into pride, and thusly into selfishness and greed.

This exploration, however, comes with a few issues, predominantly in the script. As previously mentioned, it is extremely difficult to criticize a plot that is entrenched with social issues, made even more arduous due to proceeds going to a charity foundation which is extremely beneficial to LGBTQ rights. I doubt the GSBA scholarship would be attached to a script if it did not have good intentions.

The reason why I bring this up is beacause I personally found the writing to be the weakest part of “The Originals.” This is predominantly due to pacing issues. The drama is framed around a central plot point of these students possibly being expelled over writing identical essays. However, as more troubling confessions are made, the importance of these essays is still emphasized. It is baffling that these somewhat logical characters, wouldn’t treat subjects of abuse with the importance they deserve. One minute a character will confess to a horrendous act, others will recognize it and then it is virtually forgotten, making cameos on the backdrop of a low-stakes plagiarism scandal. Because all of the characters come from a place of privilege, this could possibly be a commentary on how we often overlook the actions of those in power, but it isn’t entirely obvious from the script alone. I enjoy theatre which contains a certain level of ambiguity, but in this case, I was more perplexed as to whether the message the audience received was intentional or not.

The play at some points shows characters being comforted for having a mental/physical breakdown, by characters who have learned they have committed unforgivable actions. It begs the question: was the play attempting to make us sympathize with these abusers? Or were these scenes meant to show the flaws of those complicit with them? The fact that this is a question that lingered with me after the show displays a clear issue with the script: it is too open-ended to the point that the message or even the discussion it meant to provoke is confused.

Despite this rather harsh criticism, there were major elements “The Originals” executed very well. This is primarily due to an extremely talented, passionate cast. For as flawed as the writing could be at times, it certainly allowed each actor a standout scene. From the moment these characters enter the room, you can immediately tell who they are, and what they want. Be it the disheveled and crazed Harding (Andrew Galteland), or the strutting, cocky Van Doren (Sofie Kline). I would encourage theatre-goers to attend “The Originals” simply to see five electrifying actors show off their immense talent.

Despite the issues I mentioned with the pacing and writing, “The Originals” certainly left a big impression on me personally. The play is partnered with a scholarship fund for LGBTQ students, which deserves immense support. With controversial media, it is important to see it yourself and form your own interpretation/opinion. If you have the time, go out and see something that while confusing at times, is very original.

“The Originals,” by Brandon Force. Play Your Part, November 7th-24th Tickets Available At:


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