Actors shine through screens in ‘Inaccurate Conceptions’

Players’ Theatre’s production of Inaccurate Conceptions, written by Sharon Reichert and directed by Kiara Pollice, U2 Education, ran from March 25-27. The 30-minute play, cleverly adapted to be performed live on Zoom, explored romance, gossip, and breakups. During the brief and intimate runtime, the audience glimpsed a relationship between four friends all trying to resolve the tensions underlying their dynamic. 

Inaccurate Conceptions revolves around Owen (William Marc Smyth, U1 Arts & Science) as he navigates how to break up with his current girlfriend, Angela (Alexa Marston, U1 Arts), to begin a relationship with their friend Lisa (Bailey Bird, U1 Arts). A meta solution for a stageless production, the three of them and their friend Joanne (Mia Berthier, U2 Arts & Science) are on a virtual call together gossiping about a couple, Larry and Dana from The Young and the Restless. When Angela briefly leaves Zoom for a snack, their fictive gossip turns into a discussion about how Owen should end his relationship with Angela. 

Despite Zoom’s limits on personal interactions, the actors’ natural chemistry made Inaccurate Conceptions a captivating play. Members of the cast complimented each other’s energy, which helped to convey the authenticity of their “onstage” friendships. 

Smyth successfully captured Owen’s awkwardness: His long pauses, wandering eyes, and nervous laughter brought to life his character’s precarious standing. In contrast, Bird played Lisa with self-assured confidence. In juxtaposition to Smyth’s sheepishness, Bird maintained eye contact with the camera and delivered her lines with steady speed and volume.

On the other hand, Marston and Bethier, who portrayed Owen’s current girlfriend Angela and their other friend Joanne, respectively, accurately embodied their roles looking in from the outside to figure out Owen and Lisa’s burgeoning relationship. Marston conveyed Angela’s aloofness through subtle characterizations, such as delivering her lines while twirling her hair, chewing with her mouth open, and appearing oblivious to the conversation’s serious undertones. Berthier portrayed Joanne’s frustration over her inability to understand Owen and Lisa’s secret by bringing herself closer to the camera every time she demanded answers from Owen and Lisa. Berthier’s performance offered a nice comedic relief to the dramatic—and albeit frustrating—situation. 

Inaccurate Conceptions ends without a firm resolution, as Reichart decided to leave unresolved tension between Owen and Lisa at the end of the play. During their discussion about Larry and Dana from The Young and the Restless, Owen and Lisa engage in a debate about abortion politics. Owen felt that the father has a right to know about his child, whereas Lisa believed that the mother should be able to make decisions without telling the father. By the end of the play, Lisa and Owen’s conflicting perspectives on parenthood are never fully resolved, but the audience is left believing that they will have a happy relationship together. This unresolved argument highlights the complexity of their romantic relationship and leaves the audience wanting more. 

As the show’s director, Pollice made excellent use of Zoom by giving her actors a unique mobility that would be impossible to carry out on stage. Throughout the show, Angela weaved in and out of frame at random, giving the other actors an opportunity to react to her unexpected presence on screen. Angela’s presence and absence acts as a literal elephant in the room, emphasizing the awkwardness of the conversation. 

Despite failing to issue a content warning for its discussions of heavy material, Inaccurate Conception was overall a creative and intimate play that explored the intricacy of romantic relationships and offered its actors an opportunity to showcase their talents on the screen. Players’ McGill has once again demonstrated its resilience in shifting to an online format.

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