AST presents ‘Jerry Finnegan’s Sister’: The theater that everyone needed

| Senior Cadenza Editor
Two spotlights illuminate the left and right thirds of the photo. A man stands in the left spotlight and a woman in the right.

Dom Bottom (Brian) and Leah Coleman (Beth) stand outside of their respective childhood houses and indulge the audience with their emotions towards one another. (Photo courtesy of All Student Theatre)

All Student Theatre is back with what I would consider to be the perfect revival play. It was light hearted, comedic and enjoyably awkward enough to make the audience forget that COVID-19 changed the atmosphere of live performance. Instead of making a big deal out of wearing masks, only having two actors and social distancing, the crew made the show seem natural and normal; I was very grateful for this. 

“Jerry Finnegan’s Sister” was written by Jack Neary and directed by AST’s president, Emma Thorp. Although the cast of two works perfectly in regards to COVID-19, the storyline still seems very timeless. Spanning about ten years, this rom-com truly encapsulates the universal awkwardness of first love. With playful performances from Dom Bottom and Leah Coleman, the driving idea of “connection” in the play translated perfectly to the audience—it was refreshing. 

I was very impressed with all of the technical work that came together to produce a virtual show. From the voices of the actors behind masks to the sound effects and lighting, I was in awe when I saw the quality of the production. This isn’t to say I didn’t have high expectations, but rather I was surprised that with such limited resources and heavy safety constraints, they really outdid themselves. 

I must admit, though, that in any situation, whether it be a Broadway production or a college campus performance, I hate watching adults act as kids. I understand the need for it, especially in the development of Brian (actor Dom Bottom) and Beth’s (actress Leah Coleman) relationship, but it is always uncomfortable. This can’t really be fixed, I suppose, but for me, it always makes me cringe a little. Regardless, I feel like this awkwardness for the audience correlates pretty well with the awkwardness of growing up and having a childish crush. Maybe I’m being overly critical, but I guess the discomfort was well-transmitted. 

Although Jerry Finnegan never actually appeared, I really liked his character in the storyline. Especially in the end, I appreciated the comedy of him being the hero, despite never once being seen and only being acknowledged as Beth’s brother or Brian’s best friend. The ending was really cute, but I couldn’t help but think “Please don’t kiss through your masks” the whole time they were confessing their love. Thankfully, they didn’t. Instead, they expressed their love by holding hands and fluttering with passion. 

When the storyline ends, they are adults, but they still share a giddy and youthful love. With Brian still being a little awkward towards his childhood love and Beth holding on to her playful stubbornness, the characters remained consistent—truly a wholesome relationship. Just like any full-circle story, it was a fulfilling conclusion.

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