Red Noses, directed by Michael McNulty, opened to a sold out Black Box Theatre the night of April 7, filling the Gilliam Center for the Arts with laughter and tears.
The following two performances, a Saturday night show and a Sunday matinee, were also met with enthusiasm. To complete its five show run, Red Noses returns to the stage for the final two performances on April 14 and 15 at 8pm. The play is a cultural credit event with tickets free for students, faculty and staff, and $5 for the public.
Set in France in 1348 during the plague, Red Noses explores the breakdown of social rules and institutions when all former means of living have proven unsuccessful to survive the horrific tragedy of the black death. Characters question the value of the Catholic church, God, money, pleasure and their own bodies as they navigate their turbulent environment. Flote, a monk played by theatre major Kara Dotten, is inspired by God to create a troupe of clowns, “red-nosed zanies” to cheer the dying and alleviate the peasants’ suffering. Accompanied by an odd group of contradictory people, including Dalton Emershaw as a blind juggler, Mollie Weitzman as a stuttering comedian, and a nun who wants to be raped as a penance played by Jessica Mullins, Flote captivates audiences from Auxerre to Avignon, spreading hope and laughter. However, as time passes and the world heals, the Floties may no longer be welcomed in society by the same power structure that first authorized them.
Written by Peter Barnes and first performed in 1985, Red Noses still connects to its audience in 2017. The dark comedy examines cultural norms, identity, community, religion and societal instability in a format that moves the audience to laugh, cheer, jeer and cry. As Bembo, portrayed by Griffin Duy, announces, “Will you laugh or weep when you see what’s said and done?” There are only two shows left to find out.