“Defying Gravity” keeps main points grounded

Kelly Wynne, Features Editor

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The dramatic comedy “Defying Gravity” has made its way to the MAC Studio Theater as one of this year’s student productions. The play, written by Jane Anderson, explores the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster through two main characters, Teacher and Elizabeth. Playgoers witness the grieving of Elizabeth, Teacher’s daughter, as well as the effect on those who witnessed the tragedy over a 20-year span.

The show focuses on providing multiple perspectives and does that well with the explanation from both Teacher and Elizabeth. Elizabeth shows the view of an innocent child. Her dialogues include naïve remarks and, although played by an adult, capture the image of a 5-year-old with little clue as to what is happening.

Although the play sounds heart wrenching and dramatic, it aims to show that over the course of history, humans have aimed to break the boundaries of normal thinking, or “defy gravity.”

The biggest shock of the script may be the attempt to compare the life of Claude Monet to the Challenger tragedy. This is done by comparing his passion for art with the passion of exploring the universe beyond the confines of earth. There are already plenty of angles in the production, and adding Monet’s ghost just gives yet another perspective, which is definitely the most unexpected.

The show has a lot going on. Some attempts at incorporating multiple time periods and characters get messy, but the script is written in a way that makes following each twist easier than expected. Each unexpected link that comes up connects to the main storyline in a way that helps the show, so jam packed with information, still make complete sense.

As the study guide for the program notes, the most important thing is not to focus on just one emotion or point that the play projects. The script is filled with hints and questions, giving the production a say on not only traveling to space, but art, life, death and religion.

The coolest thing about “Defying Gravity” is that with so many points and perspectives, it’s almost impossible for everyone to leave the theater with the same message. The production will speak to each viewer individually, rather than having an audience who takes away one main point.

The College of DuPage production, directed by Bryan Burke, will continue through March 22.

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