As a mass communication major, first year student Alex Mbuthia is already studying how to use different mediums to clearly convey ideas to an audience. It’s all about creating understanding. But in her role in TheatreUNCA’s two one-act “theater of the absurd” performances, it’s miscommunication that takes center stage.
In The Room, the first act of this doubleheader performance, Mbuthia plays an anxious housewife haunted by her fear of the home’s basement, and what may hide there. “She’s so fearful of that and it takes over her life and her thoughts,” Mbuthia explained. “And she’s very fearful of losing what she has to someone else, and losing her stability and her home and her relationships with the people around her.”
Confusion and disconnect permeate the story, with Rose asking questions of her silent husband and then answering them herself and always changing subjects in her scattered monologues, and disjointed dialogue between characters who don’t appear to be listening to each other at all.
“In this one specifically one of the big things it’s tackling is miscommunication between characters,” Mbuthia said, “and this need for human connection but not being able to achieve that, because the communication is skewed and no one is really hearing what the other is saying.”
The second one-act play, The Bald Soprano, is a little lighter and more comedic, Mbuthia said—but the same problems persist for these characters, as well.
“In the second act I play Mrs. Smith, she’s a very posh, middle upper-class woman,” Mbuthia said. “We put up this persona of class and grace, and in that you see that these characters have nothing else going for them relationship-wise.”
Though miscommunication and disconnect feature heavily in both plays, Mbuthia says she doesn’t see the themes as pessimistic or hopeless.
“Communication is not something that’s always innate, it’s something that has to be worked on, and it has to be built,” Mbuthia said. “Lack of communication doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing, it means that it’s something that needs to be worked on.”
Performances will take place in Carol Belk Theatre Feb. 28, March 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 at 2 p.m. For tickets to The Room and The Bald Soprano, visit https://drama.unca.edu/theatre-unca
The Room is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc., New York
The Bald Soprano (trans. Howe) is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.