“The Shadow Box” Sheds Light on Mortality

Taft Theatre Instagram post for competition in Pharr, TX, courtesy of @taft_theatre .

After a bitter loss at the Area One Act Play competition in Pharr, TX this past Friday, Taft Theatre gave a public performance of Michael Cristofer’s 1977 Pulitzer and Tony winning play, “The Shadow Box,” this Tuesday. Despite the loss, the production managed to go on beautifully and with the same enthusiasm that had the group advancing at previous competitions. 

“The Shadow Box” revolves around the experiences of three dying patients and their families. The patients live out their final days in personal cottages on hospital grounds so they can receive medical treatment and therapy while living out comfortably. The play closes with an unsure ending for the characters and leaves the audience unsure of what they’d personally do to live to the fullest if they or their loved ones were dying.

Photo of the students involved in the production of “The Shadow Box”, courtesy of McGuire Photography.

The confusion and desperation of the families and patients all not knowing what to do in their situation was incredibly moving. The performance of junior Paulina Csitkovits as Beverly in particular, brought humor to the sadness of the play. The chemistry between the married couple Joe and Maggie, played by senior Conor Tompkins and senior Grace Johns, was executed so well that it was hard not to get invested in their relationship and wish they and their family could have more time together. The power of senior Briana Chavez playing as Agnes, a patient’s struggling daughter, was breathtaking as she portrayed the making of poor decisions with the best of intentions for their mother. Chavez made it hard for the audience to not be mad at her character and want to hug her at the same time. 

Copy of the cast list for the production, courtesy of Taft Theatre. 

The set design was well organized and thought out. They creatively displayed all three cottages at once while giving each their own identity. Starting off the play using a projector to display a vital signs monitor before you can see anything else on stage helped the audience immediately be absorbed by the plot’s desperation.

Overall, it was very impressive how well the cast was able to move the audience in only one act, and I wish they had been able to give more public performances of it so that more students could have witnessed their talent. If you did happen to miss this week’s performance, they will have an understudy exclusive performance of the production on April 19 with more information on the time and cost coming on a later date.