Summary: The ’10-’11 first-year show. The Theater Department selects actors, a stage manager and an assistant to the director from a large group of freshmen and sophomore-feb hopefuls, then pairs them with a director who’s a recent alum.  This year, Caitlin Dennis ‘06.5 directs the new talent in eight two-person scenes that center on the theme of love — admittedly, a pretty big topic.

The first-year show's nifty poster

Good: Scene transitions: In variety-show-ish performances, scene changes can be pace-killers, but “This Kind of Close” keeps ’em efficient and unobtrusive. // Fun, cluttery set design lets scenes pop out of unexpected places. // Really solid acting: bold choices and enthusiasm from everyone in the cast.  No one completely astonished me, but everyone could astonish me with the right role and a bit more time. I’m ready to see what these kids learn in future shows.

Bad: Scene transitions: they play with a robots-turning-human conceit, but the actors only seem to start having real fun with the transitions close to the end. Could have been a first-performance flub. // For a show that embodies the new world of college for these actors, there were a lot of high-school scenes, scenes that were written or played young. It’s really fun stuff, but I was left thinking the script selections could have been slightly more challenging.

Broad: “This Kind of Close” didn’t rock me to my core or anything, but that doesn’t need to happen at every show.  It provides a break from Middlebury’s more weird experimental offerings.  Here’s how a friend of mine put it as we left the show tonight: “This was the first time I’ve come [to the Zoo] and laughed. Usually the plays are for connoisseurs, not normal people. But this one was cute.” I can’t complain about that.

Contextual Rating: If you have something important to do this weekend,
…do it, and see this show if you can;
…put it off and see this show;
…skip it. SEE THIS SHOW.

“This Kind of Close” in the Hepburn Zoo.  Three more shows: Friday at 8:00 and 10:00, Saturday at 8:00. Tickets are “sold out”, but if you stop by the Zoo between 7:00 and 7:30, put yourself on the waiting list and come back at 8:00, chances are good that you’ll get in.