Victorian-styled play opens this Friday

Sam Womack

The play “On the Verge,” written by Eric Overmeyer, begins Oct. 20 and should be a breath of fresh air for television and movie addicts.

According to director and professor James De Paul, this play engages the imaginations through witty wordplay with popular culture overtones.

Going to the theatre requires much more preparation for audience members. Things like babysitters and parking need to be taken into account, unlike setting up TiVo.

But De Paul assured the Daily Sundial that “On The Verge” is worth it.

De Paul calls the play “unfashionably American” and wholly without apology for its nationalism.

Overmeyer’s play is about three of the best explorers from the year 1888, who just happen to be women. As female explorers, they do not fit into the strict Victorian gender codes that were prevalent in that era. The women explore the unexplored and unexpectedly realize they are also moving through time.

The women represent strong female role models and political ideologies, according to De Paul. One of the women is from the midwest and tends to have a very conservative view. Another woman is from the east coast and takes a very liberal stance, even when confronted with a cannibal.

There are four actors in “On the Verge,” the three main characters are Georgette Brotherson, Julie Brett and Katherine Johnson, the women explorers. The one male actor Brian Hand, plays eight different characters from a native cannibal to a Vegas lounge singer.

“The play is very funny, a tongue twister, really,” Hand said. “I want people to be exhausted after seeing the show, like post-workout type of exhaustion.”

Both Hand and De Paul spoke about the emphasis on language in Overmeyer’s play.

“You can tell Overmeyer really loves language and the spirit of it,” De Paul said. “You can definitely see the power of language.”

The main characters find bits and pieces of history as they travel through time, but according to De Paul, they have no context for what they are witnessing. Overmeyer confronts the women and their formal 1888 language with the slang of the 1950s.

At one point in the play, the women find a button and assume the language on it is not English because it is so foreign in its slang.

“I think what it’s really about is the engagement of the imagination and the power of the theatre to transform the world,” De Paul said.

De Paul hopes the play will help people transform the way they see. He also said “On the Verge” requires the audience to be active participants. Overmeyer throws in long forgotten quotes and historical people, places and things.

“On The Verge” shows the characters as they find the era that fits them best and find themselves in the process.

This play includes a student from the music department, Ronnie Ashley, who’s role is to emphasize the language. Students have been involved in the production of “On the Verge” for the last six weeks and the few days before the opening is always a struggle, a good struggle, De Paul said.

The CSUN women’s studies department is also involved and will be present for the talkback that takes place after every show.

“Any kind of good theatre will provoke questions,” De Paul said.

That’s why the entire cast and crew will be available for questions at the talkback.