On Sept. 18, Villanova Theatre opened a play for literary lovers and comedy fans alike, titled “The Book Club.” Adapted from a story by Karen Zacarías and directed by Whiting and Barrymore Award winner James Ijames, this comedy follows the dynamic of Ana’s book club, which gathers every two weeks with some of her closest friends. However, when Ana invites a famous documentarian to film the group during their meetings, hilarious truths and outrageous scenarios build up to a chaotic turn of events.
When the audience initially meets Ana, she is seen as a controlling lover of literature, surrounded by her husband Rob, who never reads the books, Will, her former boyfriend who she believes is still in love with her, Jen, who she sees as a failure in all aspects of life, and Lily, her young co-worker who she wants to guide as her protégé. The unexpected introduction of newcomer Alex proves to undermine Ana’s role as queen bee and further hinders her ability to control what is seen through the camera.
The characters wrestle with public and private behavior, and how to transition their group dynamic under the watchful eye of a camera. Each individual is distinct and relatable, and the humor constantly builds through each passing moment. The six diverse books that are focused on uncover new secrets about each person, proving what can happen when friends start reading between the lines.
This play’s style and design make the audience feel like they are viewing a documentary in itself, with its unique emphasis on lighting, sound, graphics and intimate human connection. The stage, which mirrors a contemporary living room, even rotates like a turntable throughout the show to capture movements in time and to allow each audience member to evoke the eye of a documentarian.
With each book introduced, the stereotypes of literature are broken, and the audience is able to ponder questions of entertainment and enlightenment in regards to culture. In the end, it turns out that what began as a quaint little book club of close friends is turned upside down in a hilarious and captivating way.
“The Book Club Play” will begin its second week of performances on Tuesday, Sept 25th, and continue through Sunday, Sept 30th, at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall.