Russian romantic comedy takes the stage like you’ve never seen before

PREVIEW photo/Randi Pierce
Adrian Roque, Roland Sanchez and Skylar King rehearse their upcoming one-act play, “The Marriage Proposal.” The classic play will be Pagosa Springs High School Drama Club’s spring production and will be performed Feb. 10, Feb. 16 and Feb. 17.

By Izzy Mijares
Special to The PREVIEW
This year’s Pagosa Springs High School Drama Club production takes a different turn.
“Often we try to get as many kids involved as we can and we aim for larger, more visually oriented productions,” said Sean Downing, director and drama coach. “Every few years, though, I try to get a classic piece on stage, just for the lessons young actors can learn from the masters.”
This year’s classic piece is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s romantic comedy “The Marriage Proposal,” a one-act play filled with the irony and satire of love.
The basic plot line is simple, as are all Chekhov’s plays, “… and those simple plot lines, simple sets, simple stories, really gave Chekhov the opportunity to explore the hilarious complexities of falling in love — in any culture, at any time,” Downing explains.
The play was written in 1888 and was first performed around 1890. The original is, of course, designed around a parlor or sitting room in an aristocratic Russia.
“But, the beauty of any classical piece,” Downing laughed, “is that you can perform it in any cultural or economic setting. So, we set it in contemporary culture. What’s amazing is how little the human race changes across time and across cultures.”
The one act features only three roles, filled by Adrian Roque, Skylar King and Roland Sanchez.
“Staging only three students in a production like this is risky,” Downing said, “because often the only people who come see the play are the kids’ parents and that gives me about six people in the audience. But I really wanted to give a few kids the opportunity to get into the roles, push themselves to let the process, not the product, be the point of the play.”
“These three have really explored the process of finding character (which is harder than it looks), dealing with comedy based on reality (which is harder than it looks) and balancing their crazy lives while pursuing three demanding roles (which is harder than it looks),” Downing said proudly. “They have put together a play that balances satire with the serious, and in many places in the performance, they surprise me with some new discovery every night.”
Performances will be in the Terry Alley Auditorium at the high school on Feb. 10, Feb. 16 and Feb. 17.
“All three nights handily scheduled around Valentine’s Day, for those of you looking for the perfect date night,” Downing grinned.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; curtain is at 7 p.m. Prices are $5 for students and $8 for the public.

This story was posted on February 6, 2018.