Written by Morgan Goldsberry, Contributor
Loss? Lies? Love?! Furman’s beloved theatre department is at it again with their production of “The Bear” and “Afterplay” by Brian Friel. Friel is well known for his re-imagining of Antov Checkhov’s wonderful, classic plays. Set in 19th century pre-revolution Russia, “The Bear” follows Elena Popova, a mourning widow, her wacky servant, Luka, and surly landowner Gregory Smirnov, portrayed by Clare Beth McConnell, Aaron Price, and Jackson Pratt. The humorous story unfolds when Smirnov barges into Elena’s house, attempting to collect the debt owed by her late husband, inflicting immediate pushback from the widow. Smirnov refuses to leave until his debut is paid, causing the two to butt heads, delving into a ridiculous battle of wits and name-calling. Will these two ever reach peace? Find out in this unexpected and witty comedy!
Flash-forward to a quaint, 1920s Moscow cafe, “Afterplay” follows-up a post-drunken night of conversation between two strangers, Sonya and Andrey, played by Claire Shea and Matt Middleton. These characters from two different plays (Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters) by Antov Checkhov unite for the first time in Friel’s clever story. Sonya and Andrey spend an evening opening up to each other about their past lives and coming clean about the fibs they told the night before. Together, they talk of combating loneliness and work up the courage to confront the ever-haunting past. “Afterplay” is dreamlike and full of heart; a perfect Valentine’s Day date!
“The Bear” and “Afterplay” are directed by Rhett Bryson, a long-time director, and professor in the Furman Theatre department. Tickets are now available on Furman Theatre’s website and in the playhouse box office (864) 294-2125. The show dates are February 12th– 13th & 20th at 7:30 pm, February 14th-15th & 21st-22nd at 8 pm, and February 16th and 23rd at 3 pm. Treat your valentine to a night at the theatre!