The UL Department of Theatre & Dance presented the world permiere of Along the Nile, a play by Brian Egland. The Beaucoup section went to the play, here are their thoughts.
What struck me most about “Along the Nile” were the actors. Their performances and costumes were amazing, there wasn’t one weak link and every single person looked great on stage, whether they were providing the play’s humor or its emotion.
The set itself was rather sparse (I think they might’ve only moved two pieces of furniture between scenes), the lighting elevated it, especially when the silhouettes of the actors were used to show different scenes.
There were also moments where some of the characters wore lights as part of their costume as most of the stage fell to black, leaving the audience with barely visible faces and lines of light to carry the story.
In a story dealing heavily with dreams and the idea of blackness, the conventional and unconventional uses of light were fitting.
Where the play fell short for me was the script, so much of it was characters repeating themselves, or in some cases, very blatantly stating the theme. While repetition in dialogue can create a sort of rhythm, this was a short, two-act play, and that constraint should’ve forced every word to have weight.
L’Acadien editor in chief
After viewing the play, I was most interested in the Department of Theatre & Dance’s use of lighting and a simple set to enhance the atmosphere and make it more grounded in the Egyptian and dream-like setting throughout the play, “Along the Nile”. The lighting was used to backlight the thin white sheets hanging to play out dream elements and memories.
Having the actors play out different scenarios to create a story with just their shadows requires precise movement in order to be conveyed clearly to the audience, which was executed well. Having the shadows be the dreams and memories created a stark difference for the audience of what was a dream and what wasn’t.
However, when the pharaoh was beginning to be more trapped in the dream, the characters became more than just shadows, which I thought was a brilliant way of depicting how deep the pharaoh was dreaming.
I always enjoy going to the performances held by the students on campus. This performance was no different.
“Along the Nile” truly started their performance by setting the tone of the play as the audience was coming in to take their seats, with the usage of a fog machine and fake fire being lit. The actor performing as Pharaoh Matsimela was slowly walking in the background as a slow soft ambiance was verbally performed, which led into the beginning of the performance.
As the play continued, there was very good use of different colors and lighting to set the tone of different moments in certain scenes as well as clever usage of silhouette to help present Subira as her “real” voice in Matsimela’s dream and to show memories, the past, and Subira and their child.
The actors performing the high priests also going up the stairs into the audience help build the immersive environment and intensify the dream, acting as repeating voices of Subira almost like tricksters attempting to lead Matsimela astray.
Overall, the performance had very good acting and nicely timed comedic moments, which kept me immersed and intrigued in the story.
An evening in Burke-Hawthorne is something many who take a theater elective and thespians alike will experience during their time at UL Lafayette, or at the very least on its campus.
During my second trip back on behalf of Beaucoup I saw the preferred work I was prescribed to see from our theater department: “Along the Nile.”
While at first I had been a little hesitant to see it because of the purported length, I would very shortly find myself too invested in the production to care about silly things like the passage of time. Before the show started, a chant rang out to the high parts of the stands, the ones that would lure not only Matsimela, played by Joshua Moton, into a dream, but the audience into suspension of disbelief.
A tale nearly equal parts dramatic and comedic, following a man who must dream a future for his nation, “Along the Nile” was a play that easily could have justified a run time of three hours if only it could run that long.