Speech & Debate: ‘we haven’t had a show this funny at UD’

By: Vic Bentley – Staff Writer

“How weird is it that we are the only members of the speech and debate team and the Gay-Straight Alliance?” This is only one of the questions debated in Stephen Karam’s slapstick comedy about what it is like for three misfit teenagers who are just trying to find love and acceptance in a world of stifling adult institutional restrictions and hypocrisies.

A hilarious striptease, a great debate and a humorous look at three teenagers’ timeless struggles to find acceptance and love. In the end, they find it – not from the adults who are paid to help them –but with each other.

Solomon, a driven young journalist for the high school paper, faced with repeated observations of adult hypocrisy, relentlessly asks the universal question, ‘Why?”

“Why can’t we talk about anything real in school?” he asks his teacher, who is following institutional guidelines by essentially telling him to “be quiet.” At the behest of his teacher, he investigates and ultimately ends up joining the school speech and debate team. Howie is so lonely that he has engaged in sex with adult predators. And Diwata is a superstar wannabe who will do just about anything to get attention.

This trio of young outsiders engage in the universal debate of a lifetime asking the timeless questions, “Why can’t we just be accepted for who we are?” “Why can’t we talk about how we feel?” “Why can’t adults just be who they say they are?” “What is real?”

“It’s an eye opening show. It’s funny. It’s interesting. And it also has that scene that everyone has this skeleton in his closet, and how we decide to live fictional lives in our heads, and make decisions that hurt us. It’s about how that sense of altruism kind of makes us masochistic in some way,” said senior international studies major Owen Ginley, who plays Solomon.

Senior theatre major Jenna Gomes, who plays Diwata, said her favorite part of the play is the interpretive dance and group interpretation.

“It’s something new for me. It’s something I’ve never done before. It’s a challenge,” she said. “I would tell my friends they should come because they will definitely laugh. It’s kind of dark, but it’s definitely a comedy, and we haven’t had a show this funny at UD in quite a while.”

Director and theatre professor, Linda Dunlevy said that she loves the playwright’s voice.

“He’s got a big heart. He’s very truthful and loving,” she said.

She also insists that if audiences come out to the show, they will be filled with the warmth of the play.

“Coming out on a cold winter night is tough, but it’s a cure for cabin fever. It really is cozy in Boll Theatre.”

The opening performance of Speech and Debate is Friday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. Following performances are Saturday, Feb. 1, 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. in Boll Theatre.

Open to the public, tickets are $7 for UD students, faculty and staff and $12 for general admission. For more information, contact the UD Theatre Program at (937) 229-3950.