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Oleanna: Did you really see what you saw?

By • May 17th, 2006 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of the Hard Bargain Player’s production of Oleanna [MP3 5:29 1.6MB].

Laura: We saw The Hard Bargain Player‘s production of Oleanna on Saturday night.

Mike: Oleanna is a play written by David Mamet. It’s the story of Carol and a professor at a college. Carol is confused about her grade and the professor tries to help her. Later in the play they have a disagreement and it escalates from there. I don’t want to give too much away. This is a show you definitely have to experience for yourself.

Laura: I really liked it. It was a small cast, just two people, the student and the professor.

Mike: The two characters in the show are John and Carol. John is a professor at a college somewhere in the United States. He’s up for tenure and he’s also buying a house because he’s up for tenure, he’s really excited by that. The show opens up with him on the phone and Carol comes in. She kind of eavesdrops a little bit. He tries to help her with her grade. It’s a long conversation between the two of them. But it moves really quickly. They are overlapping their words and sentences. Carol is confused. The professor is correcting her, trying to help her and tellling touching stories about his childhood. The professor, John, was played by Matt Jordan. He did a really good job with this part. The emotions that he was controlling and then not controlling, and controlling again. And keeping his mannerisms in check. It all came together really well.

Laura: The role of the student, Carol, was played by Sara Joy Lebowitz. She really did a good job. She had a lot of emotion. She played off of John’s character in that she reacted to his words and what he was trying to get across. I could see her confusion, her intimidation, but as the play progressed a change in her reaction to him. Her presence on stage I felt changed.

Mike: The character of Carol went through a lot of changes throughout the play. On the way home we were talking and trying to figure out how much time had elapsed between the acts. Carol changed a lot. We were assuming it was a few months, but I found somewhere on the internet that it was only a few weeks. That doesn’t quite feel right for the amount of change that Carol went through.

Laura: Her presence and her attitude on stage changed from the first to the third act. Even though she did a really great job and it was a good performance, I felt that she went too fast.

Mike: The Hard Bargain Players Theare is an ampitheater in the woods. And that made this a very intimate show. You had the two actors up on stage. There were about 20 people in the audience. One thing we noticed was that it was really quiet. You could hear the birds chirping, you could hear jets, you could hear some cars on the road every once in a while. The amazing thing was the audience was really quiet. I think that’s because I felt like I was eavesdropping on the conversations between John and Carol. I didn’t want to make any noise because then they would hear me and I wouldn’t be able to keep listening. There were a few times where we the audience laughed or chuckled or gasped. That was ok because everybody did it and then everybody was real quiet again.

Laura: The play took place in the professor’s office. It was a simple set. You had a desk, a couple of chairs and a phone. They did really well with the special effects and the phone ringing appropriately. I thought that was good. It kept the flow going.

Mike: I thought the professor’s office was too large. If he hasn’t made tenure yet, he’s not going to have a real big office. I felt like it was a little bit too large. The actors did a great job with moving around on the stage. If it had been smaller that would have been a lot more limiting for what they could do.

Laura: The clothing tht the actors were wearing was appropriate for the action that was taking place throughout the show.

Mike: What was your favorite part of the show?

Laura: My favorite part of the show was the first act when the professor and the student were getting to know each other. The student was explaining how she didn’t understand his concepts and his lectures in class and the profesor trying to explain it to her. In a way, I felt he did a little bit of posturing and trying to impress her with his wealth of knowledge and all she wanted to know was how to keep from failing the class.

Mike: Oleanna was a really good show. It’s going to make you think. It’s goinng to make you question what you saw happen in the first or second acts. One thing that this show also talks about is censorship. I felt like this weekend for us was a censorship weekend. We had some political censorship going on on Thursday night when we saw Mary Stuart. Friday night we saw Fahrenheit 451 which is all about censorship and the definition of ideas. Oleanna talked about the censorship of books and the ideas that can be presented by professors in books. It was a deep weekend. Oleanna is a really good show, I definitely recommend you go see it.

Laura: Oleanna is playing through next Friday and Saturday night at The Hard Bargain Ampitheater in Accokeek, Maryland.

Mike: Once you’ve seen Oleanna, feel free to leave comments on the show on our website after our review here at

Laura: And now, on with the show.

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2 Responses »

  1. Not really a comment about the review. Just wanted to say nice site!

  2. Matt Jordan was the best thing about it.