In the midst of a tumultuous week, Goshen College’s theater department is presenting the play “Red Herring” by Michael Hollinger in hopes of giving the community something to laugh about. Nick Peebles, a senior member of the cast, states that, “We, as a society, need distraction and laughter pretty badly right now, and I hope this show provides that.”“Red Herring,” which is based in Boston during the 1950’s Red Scare, follows the intertwined stories of three different couples in search of happiness in the midst of conflict. Although it tackles a murder mystery, nuclear bombs, and lovers with differing ideologies, the play highlights humor and fun in the midst of complex relationships. Set as a comedy, the noir atmosphere of the plot pokes fun at itself, following relatable and quirky characters and ending many scenes with dramatic musical stings.
While there are 18 different characters in the play, only six people comprise the cast. In order to accomplish this, actors adapt and change clothes quickly to play more than one character. For example, Lauren Myers, a first-year, plays three different women who all have distinct personalities.
“My main character is Florence Kravitz,” Myers said. “She’s sarcastic, she’s middle-aged, and she has some surprises up the sleeves of her housecoat.”
She notes that some aspects of characterization are harder than others.
“I’m not 45, so connecting with that part of my character has been a little difficult,” Myers said. “The sarcasm has come pretty naturally though.”
This year’s performance of “Red Herring” is unique in that half of the cast are new to Goshen College. For Myers, Ian Keim, and Olivia Smucker, all first-years, “Red Herring” is their first show on the Umble stage. Joining them are theater veterans Peebles and Lea Ramer, seniors, and Ben Reimer, a sophomore. It is clear that the cast has fun together, on and off stage.
Myers stated that theater at Goshen has been a great place to make friends and establish a community.
“Theatre at GC has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my short time being a Maple Leaf,” she said.
There is no doubt that the synthesis of the cast and crew are reflected through the quality of the show as a whole. Student crew members include Ben Meyer Reimer, Riley Woods, Rachel Buckley, Cristina Jantz, Jonah Yoder, Nick Peebles, Tabitha Immanuel, Zach Ganger, Lukas Thompson, Samantha Horsch, Claire Mitchel, Morgan Yordy, and Mary Seeck.
For cast members, themes from “Red Herring” seem to be especially applicable in light of the recent election. Peebles notes that, “a lot of the show talks about fixation, fear, and relationships,” and that “those three things are hugely relevant right now. Fear was a huge motivator in this election – we’ve fixated on small things rather than the big picture, and relationships are what will make or break this country.”
Reimer also hopes that the show can provide, “an examination of the importance of all our relationships in the face of our adversity, which some might say is a particularly poignant lesson at this time here in the US.”
Smucker encourages students and faculty who are in need of a “good, old-fashioned, de-stressing laugh,” to come check out “Red Herring” this weekend. The show opened this past weekend and will finish up this coming weekend with performances on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 20 at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students/seniors/GC employees, and they can be purchased through the Welcome Center or at the box office in Umble Center before the show. This show also counts for convocation credit.