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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Performance review: ‘The Book Club Play’ delightfully bookish, fun show

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Photo by Samuel Jackson for The Lafayette
“The Book Club Play” follows a series of tumultuous book club meetings.

Book lovers and readers of Maddie’s Library rejoice! Lafayette’s theater department’s latest production, “The Book Club Play” by Karen Zacarías, was made for you.

The two-hour play follows a group of friends whose book club is disturbed by a famous Danish documentarian placing a robotic camera to film their meetings.

The group is made up of control-freak Ana (Carly Johnson ‘24), her unfulfilled husband Rob (Xander Walther ‘27), Rob’s pretentious college roommate Will (Tiago Brousset ‘27), Will’s unrealized friend Jen (Michala Dennis ’24) and Ana’s young coworker Lily (Ronnie Ward ‘25), who begins the story as an outsider to the complicated relationships between the other book club members. Eventually, they are joined by surprising comparative literature professor Alex (Téo Rodriguez ‘24).

The central friend group feels real with lived experience and history, an effort achieved through theater professor Mary Jo Lodge’s direction and the chemistry between the actors. The control the actors have over their characters’ distinctive characteristics and flaws is evident and makes the unraveling of Ana’s neatly organized book club believable.

Through the group’s six meetings, ideas regarding the validity of the literary canon, how pop culture and new reading trends affect the value of literature and the reason people want to read books that intentionally make you sad are explored. The book selection is full of classics with a few fun surprises that are perfect for creating conversations that propel the story forward.

As one would expect from a play about books, the show’s script is wordy. Filled with monologues, the play centers character exploration at the forefront which the cast navigates beautifully. The presence of the camera pushes the group into an uncomfortable place of truth that is antithetical to the DNA of the group. The festering of the group’s secrets is felt from the very beginning and only grows as they get deeper into the process of filming the documentary and start to shed the “camera-ready” versions of themselves.

In addition to the main storyline, the “documentary” features a series of short interviews with various book-loving characters, including a literary agent (Nihan Cedimagar ‘27), a Walmart stock manager (Simara Reynoso ‘27), a secret service agent (Lucas Phillips ‘26), a retired librarian (Benry Juno ‘25) and a “book dealer” (Ian Horch ‘27). The actors were able to do so much in their short time on stage. The inclusion of each of these characters added extra comedy and provided more realism to the framework of the documentary.

I am in love with the set, which brings the audience into a cozy and welcoming environment that I would want to go to a book club in — complete with a sliding library ladder that every reader dreams of. The setup of the black box theater lends perfectly to the realism of the show, allowing the stage to feel as if it were a real living room.

“The Book Club Play” is a fun and comical exploration of why people love books and how reading impacts day-to-day life. Performances of “The Book Club Play” will occur tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available at lafayette.universitytickets.com.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Gaglione, Culture Editor
Isabella Gaglione (she/her) is a junior English and Film & Media Studies double major from Long Island, New York. The Lafayette's resident Taylor Swift Reporter. 

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