DYO is both whimsical and philosophical

The mood was set from the moment the audience entered the studio space: stark staging with harsh geometric lighting patterns, the spicy incense floating through the air, and an actor laying in the dust on the stage, twitching and writhing every few moments.

During the School of Drama’s Thursday night performance of DYO (or Please Take Care of Me), the meaning of life was questioned, fate was twisted, and caution was thrown to the winds of chance. The play, which ran for a little over an hour, was based on a variety of writings by Japanese author Haruki Murakami adapted by senior drama major Tegan McDuffie, who also directed the production.

Every part of the set and each costume served a purpose, even if it was a small, seemingly inconsequential one. Little touches, such as spraying fruity scents into the air to evoke the free winds of summer, only served to make the play more dreamlike and deliciously ambiguous. The massive amount of attention that this must have required from the crew and designers is impressive and admirable.

DYO (or Please Take Care of Me) was completely immersive in its nature, making for a thought-provoking, mystical experience. The story lines were disjointed, seemingly running along parallel lines and then intersecting haphazardly before returning to their respective planes. Because the story was compiled from 13 of Murakami’s works, the plot was grounded heavily in thematic material and characters. According to the program notes — written by the show’s dramaturgist, junior Bachelor of Humanities and Art student Emily Anne Gibson — the director and editors sifted through the works to synthesize common themes, motifs, and archetypes.

The result was a play that is unexpectedly deep and poignant, featuring six characters: He (junior acting major John Garet Stoker), She (senior dramaturgy major Olivia O’Connor), The Rat (junior acting and musical theatre double major Chris Douglass), May (junior acting major Bridget Peterson), The Sheep Man (junior theatre studies major Josh Buckwald), and The Man With No Face (also played by Buckwald).

Filled with intricate metaphors, metasymbolic references, and countless moments of surreal honesty, DYO (or Please Take Care of Me) examines the reality of life and the prices that come with reaching beyond it. While somewhat puzzling, an idea was presented early in the play that seemed to explain the bewildering stories and themes: Sometimes, not understanding something is simply how one understands it.

The cast that supported the incredibly abstract script was more than capable of communicating these intangible concepts. Peterson’s May was bubbly, sweet, and a true force of nature. She not only came off as startlingly real, but also made it easy for the audience to laugh a little in the middle of such a philosophical labyrinth. It was easy to see the viewpoint and philosophy that she represented, and the way in which she embodied the whimsical naivety of youth while spouting the truest truths was positively angelic.

May’s humor was balanced by the adorably quirky He. Resigned to agree with the many people that label him as weird, Stoker’s character was conflicted, sweet, and totally lost, making for an easily accessible and very relatable protagonist.

The collection of eclectic characters sported a wardrobe that was practically a character of its own, considering how much of the story it told, and the staging was both simple and incredibly purposed.

With all of these elements blending together, a play that had the potential to crash and burn in ambiguity emerged as a whimsical, magical story that explored the fuzzy edges of reality, crafting an introspective experience for all.