» by Lauren Cottle
Assistant Features Editor
“Book of Days” stormed through the Theatre department from Wednesday, Oct. 1 to Sunday, Oct. 5.
The play is set in the small town of Dublin, Missouri. While the play has more than a few funny moments, it is definitely a drama.
“Book of Days” is both a murder mystery and a “play within a play,” according to director Sara Gotcher.
The play follows Ruth Hoch, played by senior theater performance major Brittany Thompson. Hoch auditions to be Joan of Arc in a play put on by ex-L.A. director Boyd Middleton, played by sophomore theater performance major Scotty Phillips.
Joan of Arc is a French heroine and a Catholic saint who was martyred by being burned at the stake. She led a French army to victory against the English at the city of Orléans.
Hoch struggles to conform to the daunting role of Joan while a tornado rips through the town, killing prominent businessman Walt Bates, played by freshman physics major Lane Lewis.
At first, it seems Bates’ death is an accident, but upon further examination by Hoch, there might be a motive for one of the townspeople to kill him.
Bates ran the town’s cheese factory, which is undergoing a new production for provolone cheese that will bring the factory more income over a few years.
Hoch comes to suspect Earl Hill for the killing of Bates. Hoch believes his motive is to gain a higher position at the cheese factory that will give him $36,000 more annually.
The play follows other characters such as Rev. Bobby Groves, who struggles to keep the town together during the chaos shown in the play, and James and LouAnn Bates, a married couple arguing over the husband’s infidelity. As the plot advances, Thompson shines as Hoch, who declares to the town that Hill killed Bates. Reaction to this is disbelief and anger, and many do not believe Hoch.
The thrilling last scene reveals Hill did indeed kill Bates, but that it wasn’t his idea: it was James Bates’, Bates’ son. James then kills Hill so he won’t “talk too damn much” and reveal their plan to the town.
Bates goes on to win an election to represent Missouri. The play ends with injustice and ignorance.
“Book of Days” exemplifies the darker side of humanity, such as during a scene between the Reverend and Middleton. “God behaves like the biggest bully I’ve ever seen,” Middleton says.
The acting shone through well in the play, as well as the stage design. Actors were set at different levels in a convoluted staircase. The plot moved by slowly at first, but the actors made up for it in the dramatic second half of the play.
The tornado scene was one of the best in the play. The audience sat in horror as lights flashed violently, showing the tornado’s destruction and the town in chaos.
“Though it wasn’t my favorite play, it was really well put together,” said Cicely McCoy, sophomore communications major. “I enjoyed it.”
The ending of the play left much to be desired from the audience, but then again, so do many horror stories. Sometimes human nature is dark and chaotic, as shown in “Book of Days.” TAS