Character Portrayals in The Bald Soprano

The UMF production of The Bald Soprano was brilliant. Everything about the play, from the oversized clock to the portrayal of the characters, was more than I could have hoped for. I was honestly unsure about how UMF would be able to pull off such an absurd show, but they passed with flying colors. All the choices that Melissa Thompson made, from the play being comedic instead of dramatic to how it ended by repeating the beginning with the Martins instead of the Smiths was wonderful, and I enjoyed every minute of the show. 

One of my favorite aspects of the play was the stark difference between the Martins and the Smiths. Making it clear that these two couples were different in personality was something that I was missing from reading the play. On paper, it seemed that the Martins and the Smiths could be interchangeable; the Smiths could be the Martins, and the Martins could be the Smiths. Nothing about their characters stood out, and perhaps that was Ionesco’s point. However, I loved Thompson’s interpretation. I loved that the audience had a clear distinction of the two couples, being that the Smiths, especially Mrs. Smith, were loud and obnoxious and the Martins were monotone. The differences in the couples added more comedy to the show, and also added an interesting element to the play that I had not seen previously by reading it. 

The difference between the Martins and the Smiths was seen throughout the show, but was especially prominent in the beginning. The show started out with Mr. and Mrs. Smith sitting in the living room, waiting for the Martins to arrive, having “normal” conversation, or at least as normal as The Bald Soprano can get. The portrayal of Mrs. Smith was actually pretty similar to what I had imagined while reading the play. Mrs. Smith was, as said previously, loud and obnoxious and loved the sound of her own voice. Mr. Smith was a bit louder than I had thought he would be, however. I imagined him more matter-of-fact in the script, but I really enjoyed how he was portrayed in the show. His loudness was equivalent to his wife’s loudness and it added to the difference between the two couples, and the similarities within the couples.

In contrast, the Martins started out very monotone in the show, which made their first scene together funnier and more ridiculous. I thought that the scene was impressively funny, as I was not expecting to laugh so much at their interaction. The body movements, the monotone voices, and the repetition of the same mirrored movements all added up to a wonderfully funny scene. Then, adding the end in which the two fall on the couch out of happiness of finally realizing that they are married and had found one another, only to have the audience be told that they are in fact not married, just made it all the more hilarious.

Both sets of couples were intriguing in their own way, being that they were from both sides of the spectrum. No one in real life is as bland and monotone as the Martins were portrayed in the show, and not many are as loud and obnoxious as the Smiths, at least that’s the hope.

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