Charleston Alley Theatre play questions society


Mackenzie Freund

Leah Piescinski and Alexander Yeck-Petty switch into their characters for their rehearsal for the play “The Curious Savage” Tuesday at the Charleston Alley Theatre located in the Charleston Square

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

The small stage at Charleston Alley Theatre was furnished with couches, chairs, a board game and even an easel in preparation for their rendition of “The Curious Savage.”

This play opens 7:30 p.m Friday, with performances this Saturday and Monday at the same time. A 2 p.m performance is scheduled for Sunday.

Along with this weekend’s performances, “The Curious Savage” will also be performed at 7:30 p.m. May 8, 9, and 11 and at 2 p.m. May 10.

“The Curious Savage” is about Ethel P.Savage, a widow whose husband left her $10 million when he died. Her step-children, plotting to take the money for themselves, commit her to a sanitarium.

Director Marie Jozwiak said the play is about Savage’s experiences meeting people in the psychiatric ward and the relationships she develops along the way.

This is the fourth play Jozwiak has directed at the Charleston Alley Theatre. She has also directed a musical and a comedy completely made up of adults.

“It’s all been very different,” she said.

For this particular play, Jozwiak had to step in to act as a character in “The Curious Savage”  as well as a director when things with the original actor did not work out.

“I’ve never really done acting and directing at the same time before,” she said.

As an actor, she said she mainly focused on what she was doing, while as a director she has had to be involved with every aspect of the play.

“A director cares about all the people present and the overall appearance of the show,” she said. “They keep the morale of the show up.”

Jozwiak first saw “The Curious Savage” in high school, when she got to hear the script in full.

“It was my goal to do this play for a very long time,” she said.

One thing Jozwiak liked about the play was some of its themes.

“I liked the fact that there is the question of who actually is crazy,” she said. “The audience ends up questioning society and what’s really important, friendship or money.”

Alexander Yeck-Petty, who plays one of the inmates in the ward, was drawn to the play because he thought the script was funny.

“It’s a comedic play, but there are elements of drama like in any great play that’s got real feeling,” he said.

Yeck-Petty said he did not have to do much to get into his character, a man who lost his job and as a result became insane.

“To get into character for a crazy character, you just have to roll with it,” he said.

Even though most of the inmates are portrayed as “crazy,” it is the “crazy” characters who are the most sympathetic.

“The people from the outside of the asylum are greedy and selfish,” he said.

Craig Banyai, who plays a misanthropic pianist in “The Curious Savage,” has been acting with the Charleston Alley Theatre for 10 years.

“My God, I’ve been here a long time,” he joked.

He said he has been in several plays with at least half of the cast before, and he has known Jozwiak for a long time, which helped when working with them.

“It’s not work; it’s play,” Banyai said. “If it was work I wouldn’t do it. I get enough of that during the day.”

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].