If It's a Wonderful Life were set in New Haven, Conn. and New Haven, Conn., existed on the ninth level of Hell, the resulting scenario would most likely resemble In Between O'Clock by Michael Ragozzino '01. IBOC, as the program refers to the play, attempts to explore the complexity of human identity within the framework of a world dominated by a linear fixation on the passage of time. In The Well, a bar so seedy that even the homeless avoid it, Matthew Circland (Jay Chaffin '01) must confront three alternate manifestations of himself from ages 12, 21 and 42 along with his father and ex-fianc; time no longer exists within the inescapable confines of this twisted reality, leaving both the characters and the audience guessing how much we may change the future or, in Matthew's case, the yet-to-be-past.
The situation is so complex that, in places, Ragozzino and director Andrew Boch '02 seem to struggle with understanding their own universe. One awkward example arises from the fact that both Chaffin and John Gravois play Matthew Circland at age 42, yet Gravois has been 42 for 21 years. This seems to contradict the text's own (generally acceptable) logic. The problem manifests itself as a result of the overlap in the existence of the two Matthews. While other Matthews appear (Jeff Klann, age 21 and Matthew Ciborowski, age 12), Chaffin's Matthew clashes less directly with them; they exist as memories (whether based in experience or fantasy) within his subconscious. Gravois' Matthew, however, seems to coexist eternally with Chaffin's Matthew at the moment the play begins; he is a clone trapped in temporal stasis.
For all of the complexity of the situation, the events that take place within The Well are surprisingly banal. With writer's block, infidelity, regret, self-discovery, even a little touch of Dr. Freud, the text fails to offer any insight into our collective behavior, instead settling into the track established by the semi-omniscient narrator/bartender. This approach creates an atmosphere that makes IBOC seem like a lost episode of The Twilight Zone.
The performers, however, admirably manage to combine the specific realities of their characters with the supra-reality of The Well. Of significant note are Chaffin, Gravois and Jody Flader '02, who plays Matthew's lost love, Sarah. These three, more so than the other capable cast members, keep the show flowing and allow the audience to follow plot and character development in a world with too much history. Though IBOC's text lacks polish, the sophisticated conception driving the story and the dexterity with which Ragozzino addresses the material shows promise.
Though it is unlikely that the larger questions of identity and multiple levels of time and reality would escape anyone in the audience, In Between O'Clock, at the very least, offers us yet another good reason to stay away from Yale.
IN BETWEEN O'CLOCK
Michael Ragozzino '01
Andrew Boch '02
May 4 to 7
Adams Pool Theater
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