Acting Out presents 1-act comedy ‘Hard Candy’

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Acting Out presents 1-act comedy ‘Hard Candy’

Samuel Kim

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Acting Out, a student theatre group, presented a humorous series of job interviews this weekend in a one-act comedy titled “Hard Candy.” The adaption of Jonathan Rand’s 2000 piece featured the applicants and what they were willing to do to make their way up the corporate ladder.

The production, performed in AfterHours, was directed by Ishaan Lohia, a first-year applied physics and mathematics double major. The assistant director was Dan Lutz, a first-year computer science and psychology combined major.

“It’s always great seeing your shows come to life,” Lutz said after Sunday’s show. “When I watched as the show started on Saturday, I was so confident in the work that everyone had put in. I just wanted to enjoy the show and wasn’t afraid about anything.”

“Hard Candy” depicted 10 characters as they applied for jobs at the fictional, generic Banff Enterprises. Each character used their unique personalities and abilities to finagle a position with the company.

One character was the suave and attractive Fred, played by third-year bioengineering major Zach Bauer. Bauer, who wore only pants and a necktie, was immediately hired after his “interview” — a passionate kiss with the hiring manager.

Gail, played by fourth-year sociology major Hannah Sattler, attempted to hypnotize her interviewer Fred into hiring her.

“Ishaan [Lohia] and Dan [Lutz] told me to be as weird as possible, so I just completely went for it,” Sattler said. She looked the part by frizzing up her hair, wearing a thick pair of glasses and dressing in a mismatched brown tweed cardigan and a red paisley patterned dress.

When hypnotics did not work, Gail pretended to be Fred and sent a voice message that coyly invited Linda, the receptionist, into his office.

Linda, played by first-year mathematics major Kellie Laflin, dashed into the office and wrapped herself around Fred, who protested and said he was a married man. Gail took photos of the two kissing, then the lights dimmed. When they came on again, Gail was an employee conducting interviews herself. While the play does not explicitly explain how Gail became an employee, it is implied that she used the photos of Fred and Linda kissing to blackmail Fred into giving her a position with the company.

The audience watched nine times as an applicant became an employee who then conducted an interview. In each interview, the interviewer offers the applicant some hard candies, a subtle reference to the play’s title.

Acting Out President KC Hut, a third-year behavioral neuroscience major, said the executive board voted to present “Hard Candy” because many of the group’s past productions centered around dark themes and plots, including “A Streetcar Named Desire” in fall 2017.

“We always want our productions to have an impact,” Hut said, in reference to Acting Out’s motto — activism through theatre. “Sometimes, the message doesn’t need to be conveyed through a serious production that delivers the message in an obvious way. Sometimes, light-hearted productions that deliver the message subtly are just as powerful.”  

Another character was Harry, a stern and persistent former military member. Harry was played by Zak Ganhadeiro, a first-year cell and molecular biology major. Ganhadeiro said he enjoyed acting in a show that brought important workplace issues to light in a comical manner.

“There are so many issues surrounding job searches today, and I think that this production allows the audience to take a step back and laugh a bit at those issues,” Ganhadeiro said, “but also to think about those relevant issues that are brought to light.”

Meryl Prendergast, a first-year theatre major who attended Sunday’s performance of “Hard Candy,” said she appreciated how relatable the production was to Northeastern students.

“As a Northeastern student who is always thinking about the upcoming co-op search and even job searches within Northeastern like the resident assistant position, ‘Hard Candy’ helped me realize that everyone deals with this intense process,” Prendergast said. “This realization of how relatable the production was to everyone made me feel better.”

After the play ended, Hut invited audience members to ask questions to any of the cast members. Several audience members participated, including one attendee who asked what the actors had learned from portraying their characters.

Alexander Langrock, who played the lazy and tracksuit-clad Ira, jokingly responded that he learned how to be his true self.

“You should always be yourself and not hold back, because who knows?” said Langrock, a first-year computer engineering and computer science combined major. “You might actually get the job like I did.”

Correction: An update was made on March 19 at 10:09 p.m. to clarify the number of characters and character switchovers in the play.