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Full of wit and wordplay, three women explorers make their way through the last uncharted region of the world, Terra Incognita, and into the future. “On the Verge,” the UW’s Undergraduate Theater Society’s final show of the 2014-15 season, follows the friends as they time travel from the Victorian age to 1955, puzzled by objects from modern times. 

Mary (Erica Ream), Alexandra (Sylvia Kowalski), and Fanny (Kellyn Traenkenschuh) are three experienced travelers, pulled together for this strange, new adventure. All three women are talented actresses, capable of leading the entire play almost flawlessly with only a few flubs here and there.

However, Alexandra steals the show. With her mixing up of words, like confusing famous for famished, her osmosis of lyrics and jingles from the future, and her general quirky nature, she brings humor and entertainment at each step of the journey.

Some questions, like how these women ended up together in the first place, remain unanswered, but the rest of the play overshadows these concerns.

From the discovery of an “I Like Ike” button to Cool Whip, the three women, with their petticoats, pith helmets, and hiking backpacks, travel through various locations and times, encountering eight characters, all played by the same actor (Jake Lemberg). From an “amicable cannibal,” to a baby yeti, to a rapping bridge troll, the three see it all on their romp through time.

Not all the characters encountered along the way help move the plot along, but they do add to the trials and tribulations Mary, Alex, and Fanny face.

To change scenes, the chorus, dressed all in white, work to create a rope bridge, a stream, a swamp, and a jungle, just to name a few. These actors provide the animal and nature sounds and help narrate the play. With a small cast, the minimalist nature of the setting and costumes complements the overall feeling of the play, using everyday objects like lunch trays and umbrellas to transform the stage.

While clocking in at two hours and 30 minutes, “On the Verge” keeps audiences entertained through plenty of pop culture references, puns, and clever wordplay. Between their real-time explorations, each of the women trade off presenting short monologues about their previous travels.

Humorous elements like trying to “osmose” and absorb elements of the future, the first taste of Cool Whip, or arguments about the benefits and downfalls of trousers help to keep the play moving forward.

The friendship and bond between the three explorers is convincing. Yes, the play is lengthy, but by the time it ends, it’s hard to not feel for the characters. Trekking through the mystery that is the future, the trio marches on.

“On the Verge” runs from May 28 to June 7, with all performances starting at 8 p.m. at the Cabaret Theater in Hutchinson Hall. Tickets are $5 for UW students and $10 for general admission.

The verdict: “On The Verge” is a lengthy, yet amusing tale of three women explorers venturing through time. Go for Alexandra, stay for the Cool Whip of 1955.


Reach Copy Chief Kathryn Altena at Twitter: @kkaltena

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