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The “POWER” of Duff: A show worth experiencing

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing several pieces of truly incredible theatre. Everything I saw was inspiring and noteworthy. Even a week later I am still digesting what I saw. Although I would love to chat about all three of the shows, I will focus primarily on The Huntington Theatre Company’s The Power of Duff at the BCA. The Power of Duff by Stephen Belber tells the story of a “burnt-out local TV newscaster Charlie Duff [who] suddenly begins offering a prayer at the end of his nightly broadcasts, he instantly becomes a popular and controversial figure to an expanding audience.  But even as his prayers inspire millions, Charlie struggles with his own beliefs and his inability to connect with his estranged son.”

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Starting my weekend with this show really set the bar high for the rest of the production I was going to be seeing. Although, I must admit, I went into this production with a preconceived notion of what this show was going to be. I had been hearing stories regarding the piece for the last month and a half and thought I knew what to expect.

Boy was I proven wrong. I was unprepared for what I was about to see. Duff was an absolutely wonderful piece of theatre. All elements of this show came together to tell a rather remarkable story. The set, costumes, projections, and lighting all worked so well with the script to heighten this story, not take away from it. I was captivated for the entire two-hour performance. It was more than just the story and the visuals that had me charmed; it was the text and the contents of this piece that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. Director, Peter DuBois, sums it up perfectly: “Uniquely comic and unabashedly theatrical, The Power of Duff also pulses with incredible emotional clarity”.

This script addresses issues that I find myself familiar with outside the world of theatre, but I realized that I had not seen them so present on a stage. These are all very present issues that I feel need to be address, particularly today. I was excited to see these topics being addressed.

I think that this show is a leading example of how theatre is an ideal canvas for presenting sensitive topics. This show addressed issues that are all present in our life; we just don’t often openly talk about these topics. In my third blog post I talk specifically about how art is a place where social commentary can be heard. I want to expand on this for a second.  I have found that theatre provides a safe place for audience members to absorb information they might not be so open to hearing about in a different environment. They are able to connect themselves to the piece or remove themselves from the piece as much as they wish. Personally, I found a very strong connection to this piece but a fellow student did not. It is these reactions that allow theatre to be theatre. No two people will ever see the same show. Each show is viewed through a person’s unique lens. I feel that this is a reason for why theatre is particularly important in an age where digital media is the primary stimulant for society. Shows like this force people to reflect on their life as they watch a characters life unfold. It forces people, if only for just two hours, to shut out the over stimulating world that we live in and focus on this world that a play creates. The Power of Duff so powerfully creates a world that is close enough to our daily lives that it hits a nerve that other shows do not.  For me, this is a sign of good theatre. When I forget what day it is and where I am it means that I have been transported into the world of the show.

All of the shows that I saw last weekend forced me to look beyond the walls of the College of Fine arts, beyond the BU campus. It made me take a step back and remind myself that I live in a much larger world that just a world of theatre. When theatre can force you to look beyond theatre, they have done something right. Go see The Power of Duff, it will allow you to look beyond just the lights, the costumes, the projections, etc. and look at life.

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