Actors master puppetry in “Dying for It”

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The Sam Houston State University Theater Department demonstrated that there are no boundaries in storytelling by putting on a show using mainly puppets in their production of Moira Buffini’s “Dying for It”, a loose adaptation of Nikolai Erdman’s satirical play “The Suicide.”

The play takes place in Soviet Russia and tells the story of Semyon, who is unhappy with his life. After news spread about his contemplating suicide, many try to take advantage and try to convince him that he should die on their behalf.

The production took acting to a whole new level with the use of puppets. Although this was definitely a new idea to get used to, the portrayal of the plot was excellent. The actors shadowed the puppets and as they engulfed in their personas it became easy to forget about the mastery behind the characters and focus on the storyline.

The actors implemented what seemed to be a Russian accent to the dialogue, although well implemented; on occasion it would get in the way of the clarity of the plot. Nevertheless, the actors becoming one with their puppet were impressive.

Lead actor Daniel Rosales, who played Seymon, delivered a very convincing performance. The chemistry and passion that Rosales brought to his character was emphasized at the play’s climax when he delivered a moving speech about life and its meaning.

Serafima, Semyon’s mother in law, played by Adriana Dominguez, gave a brilliant performance. Her charisma and ability to lighten up situations made her stand out from the other supporting roles. Her humor was raunchy and even sassy, so out of place according to the times, but so well-delivered.

The supporting cast members were outstanding with their colorful performances and personalities. The instantaneous drama that unfolded in the play made the characters one as they each tried to get a little piece of Semyon’s suicide.

The simplicity of the set balanced the attention to structure and plot. It was interesting how the lighting was brought on stage to correlate with the emotion of the play and its interpretation, especially to outline the costumes of the puppets, which were fantastically appointed given their carrying personalities.

Needless to say, the cast and crew did Buffini’s play justice with all the right elements of acting, scenery and improvisation.

“Dying for It” will opened Wednesday at 8 p.m. and will show each night through Saturday in the Showcase Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through the UTC at 936-294-3968.

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