Little Theatre’s latest production “cul-de-sac” explores the misconceptions of the “American Dream”

Little Theatre is putting on their latest production, “cul-de-sac,” from Thursday, Nov. 14-Saturday Nov. 16 in Marie Maday Theatre.

Little theatre actors during their last show cul-de-sac, showing the hard work and dedication implemented within the cast.

Little Theatre puts on their latest production

The human condition has been expressed and manifested throughout the years as both an inescapable fate and simultaneous navigational tool, in which those from various backgrounds and cultures evaluate their circumstances and conduct their lives as best as they see fit. Perhaps one of the most oddly intriguing and undeniably relatable locations of such a concept lies in suburbia. 

On the surface, the suburbs’ promise of the American Dream — with white-picket fences and friendly neighbors galore — could provide just about anyone with a substantial amount of contentedness and sedated excitement. Little Theatre’s latest production of “cul-de-sac” pokes holes in such a notion in displaying the danger within basing one’s idea of happiness on a pre-established, subjective standard. Is it really worth trying to keep up with the Joneses? 

“The show is about three suburban couples who put up faces of friendliness and joy, but are very envious and competitive with each other behind the scenes,” senior Andrew Phelan, Little Theatre’s secretary and actor of one of the show’s suburbanites said. “All the things they see their neighbors have doesn’t necessarily make them happy. They feel like they have to live up to this image of the Joneses but it doesn’t give them any real satisfaction–– it just causes the world to fall down on their shoulders and they don’t know what to do anymore.”

Comprised of three spouses who are as internally depressed and disappointed as they are externally cheerful and kind, “cul-de-sac” keeps both its characters and audience members on their toes. In taking stereotypically mundane lifestyles and conveying the painfully authentic fact that no one ever truly knows what happens behind the closed doors of their neighbors, the show depicts varying aspects of the human condition — albeit extremized versions — whilst refraining from straying too far from underlying truths.

“This one is a bit of a smack in the face,” Phelan admitted. “With most shows, I feel audiences can usually tell where it’s going within the first couple of minutes. But with “cul-de-sac,” you have to wait a little while longer to understand where each character is coming from in order to get the big picture.”

In having to properly achieve bringing this dark comedy to life, Phelan and his fellow castmates bonded over many portions of the rehearsal process.

“Everyone in the cast has been very professional and enthusiastic about what we’re doing,” Phelan said. “Even when we’re not acting and we’re just talking about the characters, we all have our own ways of interacting with each other and thinking about the story and its relationships. We bond very easily and I really like that.”

Of course, with proper deliverance of a rather challenging script comes the crucial guidance from a director — and a dedicated and talented one, at that.

Having served as one of Little Theatre’s advisors for over twenty years, as well as now adding “cul-de-sac” to her impressive repertoire of shows directed at Canisius, Eileen Dugan successfully strikes again in helming a rather unique show and its premises.

“I’m excited to see how the show works with an audience because the one thing we might have posing a challenge is that it’s not a well-known play,” Dugan said. “Some people don’t even know what a cul-de-sac is–– to which I just keep saying “dead-end street.”

Dugan believes “cul-de-sac’s” contemporariness and relevance to modern times with realistic struggles will ultimately prevail.

“Canisius audiences might be a little young to have gotten to that place of disappointment, but I think that the characters being youthful and dealing with things on the horizon for all of them — like what dreams they’re chasing and whether or not it’ll be what they truly want — are important to think about,” Dugan explained. “It’s also darkly funny and I think audiences will enjoy that. It’s got a fresh, modern kind of appeal.”

Needless to say, the hard work and dedication implemented within the cast, combined with Dugan’s remarkable execution of her vision and the crew’s impressive diligence, creates a recipe for success in delivering a performance that elicits as many laughs as it does gasps.

“cul-de-sac” runs from Thursday, Nov. 14 to Saturday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. in the Marie Maday Theatre. An additional matinee performance will also take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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