CSUN actors shine bright in ‘Ah, Wilderness’

Daily Sundial

CSUN’s Theatre Department presented “Ah, Wilderness,” with a magnificent display of the dedication and talent from both the faculty and students, who accurately and ingeniously depicted Eugene O’Neill’s story about one family’s struggles.

“Ah, Wilderness,” O’Neill’s only comedy, takes a different perspective from his previous tragedies, and instead focuses on the humor in life’s difficulties.

The play, which was first published and performed in 1933, originally consisted of four acts, but CSUN’s Theatre Department presented it in three.

Act One, Scene One opened with a beautifully designed scene in the sitting room of the Miller family, at their home in a small Connecticut town.

Nat Miller, owner of the local newspaper, played by Matt Hurley, juggles running his business and making time for dealing with his family’s issues. Hurley played a convincing role of husband and father, using the strong voice of an older man.

His wife Essie, played by Anne Arreguin, is a controlling woman who spends most of her time trying to push her children, as well as the family servant, to obey what she considers to be good standards.

Arreguin did a good job as Essie, and was very convincing as an annoying and fretful woman.

Jon Zuber was perfect for the role of Richard Miller. Zuber managed well a rebelious attitude, as well what seemed to be a natural feeling of melancholy and discontent for life that is descriptive of Richard, who receives a letter from his girlfriend telling him that she wants to break up.

The characters wore fantastic costumes designed by Paula Higgins, and were reminiscent of the era in which the story takes place, the late 1930s.

Although it was a challenge for the young Northridge actors to look the ages their roles demanded, hair and makeup design by Michelle Lee made it possible for them to pull off their parts, especially with the carefully applied effects on the actors foreheads to produce wrinkles and facial signs of age.

Patric McInnis did a great job of portraying Arthur Miller, the eldest son, who looks down upon his younger siblings’ childish ways. McInnis seemed to have a natural ability of behaving like a snobby, preppy Yale student who thinks he’s better breed than anyone he deals with.

Norah, played by Alisha Nichols is the stereotypical housemaid with a foreign accent, who receives smiles and gestures from the males in the household, but cannot seem to satisfy Essie. In return, Essie takes it upon herself to educate and train Norah to be a proper servant.

Melisa Verdugo plays the part of Muriel McComber, a victim of her controlling father. She is forced to write a break-up letter to Richard, who in return takes offense and plans to get even by going out and drinking with a fast girl.

The most beautiful scene takes place along a strip of beach by the harbor during the nighttime. Here, the young lovers agree to meet and discuss their true feelings for one another, building up emotion and feeling for a great kiss that felt true and full of love.