Play to showcase painful, hillarious love triangle

Katherine Drake
The university theatre department will present the romantic-comedy “The Dog in the Manger” Oct. 11-13 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 2 p.m.

Whether Jason Merslich is doing ordinary tasks like washing dishes or walking to class, he is constantly reciting his lines for his upcoming performance in “The Dog in the Manger.”

“I look like a crazy person because I’m just always talking to myself,” the junior theatre major said. “I’ve gotten people responding to me thinking I’m talking to them, but then I’d just continue talking and they’re like ‘oh never mind.’ I would just continue reciting my lines even if people don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Merslich said the play is set in 17th century Spanish noble society following the crazy love triangle of a countess, her secretary and her maid.

“It’s a different play than USI has put on,” Merslich said. “Because it’s completely over the top and the way we are supposed to be acting.”

Merslich plays Teodoro, the secretary and love interest of the Countess of Belfor.

The romantic-comedy will be performed Oct. 11-13 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 2 p.m.

Rehearsals began early in the school year and the actors have been working hard preparing for the performance.

“We started learning our lines very quickly,” Merslich said. “During the second week of rehearsals, half of us were already off book so we could just get the lines down. We started doing these speed run throughs a lot where we would just say our lines as quickly as possible and see how quick we could do them. It helped us pick up the ques and talking.”

 Carlysle Garland plays the Countess Diana in her first production at the university.

“The show itself is widely humorous,” the junior theatre major said. “The audience should be able to follow it pretty easily. The language is beautifully written, but it’s not as complex as Shakespeare. Most audience members should be able to follow it easily. Especially the way we are delivering it.”

“It’s about trying not to lose yourself even for things like love,” Garland said. “Knowing who you are and trusting your own honor no matter what that means to other people.”

Garland said her character is a powerful and bold female figure especially for a piece written in the 17th century.

“The character is to break the stereotype with the power and the dominance of her character because she does show this interest in this servant during the play which is not common for women to do in the 17th century,” Garland said.

Garland felt challenged playing this character. She looked up the movements and attire of the women from the era to help better set herself into Diana’s character.

“How women would act in public or in private is very different from how we today would act in public or in private,” Garland said. “There was such a standard back then so that I could really get into that character or try to portray that character as best as I can for whoever is going to see it.”

Garland said the script to this play is very unique with beautiful language that is not common today. The actors, Garland said, are working hard on making sure the deliverance of their lines is clear and emphasizes the points they are trying to get across.

“The way that we are delivering those lines to the audience and to each other as the characters, will make a lot more sense versus just saying the lines and not giving them any meaning or any depth,” Garland said. “We are really working on making sure that its clear and it’s understandable. Especially those lines that are really uncommon to most ears.”

Even though the play is set centuries ago, Garland still believes the plays message can speak to today’s audience.

“If you’ve ever loved or wanted something that you cannot have then you’ll get it. There’s all this turmoil with all these people and their feelings,” Garland said. “It’s like ‘what are you doing woman?’ And (Diana) is like ‘I don’t know, I’m in love and I can’t control it.’”

As the actors prepare for their final practices, Merslich said the hard work has been worth it.

“It’s been a lot of fun. And this cast has honestly been one of the most hard-working people in this department,” Merslich said. “It’s so great to see everyone come together and form these characters.”

“I think people will enjoy it,” Merslich said. “The way we act and the way we are trying to perceive ourselves is for people to feel comfortable and to relax and have a good laugh. I think we’re trying our best to keep our diction well, so people can understand what we are saying because sometimes the language can be difficult to understand.”

Merslich said he hopes students will take a well-deserved break from their classes and studying to see the play.

“This is just a time for us to just sit down for a couple of hours and just watch something that’s entertaining,” Merslich said. “I think it’s important for people to come out and just enjoy what is going on and what we have to perform.”