Last week, Theatre Roanoke College was proud to present the winter production Autobahn, a collection of seven one act plays all taking place in the front seat of a car. Each play consisted of two actors with their own vastly different stories to tell.
Directed by Dr. Lisa C. Warren, associate professor of the Fine Arts Department, and presented in Olin Theater, Autobahn opened on Wed. Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m., and closed on Sat. Feb. 19. Written by the acclaimed playwright Neil LaBute, the provocative collection of stories contained strong, emotionally charged subject matter advised for a mature audience.
Autobahn was performed in an intimate three-quarter round setting that allowed the audience to fully engage in the action before them. The set was simple as it consisted of a small, faded light blue and turquoise car seat with a steering wheel, stick shift, and cup holder. The seat sat on top of a square platform, putting the actors on display. A large, intricate road map served as a backdrop for the show.
What was so interesting about Autobahn was how some actors had no dialogue in the plays. While one actor sat in the passenger seat delivering a monologue, the other actor had the challenge of reacting to what was being said, without saying a word. This put strong emphasis on the silent actors’ external dialogue by showing how well they could portray their emotions through body language.
Autobahn showcased a wide variety of situations and emotions. The audience met a daughter coming home from rehab; an uncomfortable boyfriend trying to break up with his wacko girlfriend; a pedophile on his way to a cabin with a young blond girl in the passenger seat; and two “bros” on a mission to retrieve a beloved Nintendo64.
“The play causes you to think of your life inside a car,” said Darlene Harris ’10, assistant stage manager of Autobahn. “You experience so many emotions that you can’t run away from because you’re driving along without anywhere to run or hide.”
Autobahn portrayed the car as being a barrier between the characters and the outside world; a place where the driver and the passengers problems can be brought to the surface in a private setting.
“Perhaps that is what Neil LaBute is alluding to,” Harris said. “How in the end, we can’t avoid running away from our troubles. We must face things head on.”