Amherst Through Art — Homecoming Review

After a year of fully remote performances, this Fall marked the return of live performance to Amherst campus! Managing Editors Theo Hamilton ’23 and Alex Brandfonbrener ’23 highlight their favorite performances of the year so far.

After a year of fully remote performances, this Fall marks the return of live performance to Amherst campus! During the semester so far, the Arts and Living Section has covered a wide variety of performances: plays, concerts and more. Managing Editors Theo Hamilton ’23 and Alex Brandfonbrener ’23 highlight their favorite performances.

Bad Jews

A one-act play taking place in a Manhattan apartment, "Bad Jews" explores questions of identity and ancestry through a family dispute over a necklace. Image courtesy of Emma Ratshin '22E.

I can’t say enough good things about “Bad Jews,” which was performed as Emma Ratshin 22E’s senior thesis earlier this semester. The play is set entirely in one room and its adjoining hallway over the course of a single night. Within this claustrophobic setting, its four characters alternate between arguing, reflecting and fighting for 90 minutes, with every exchange adding depth to each characterization. By the time the curtains close, it’s almost impossible to like either of the play’s central characters — the devout and argumentative Daphna or her entitled and secular cousin Liam — but it’s even harder not to empathize with both of them.

The Amherst Symphony Orchestra

The Amherst Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage for their first concert in Buckley Recital Hall since before Covid, featuring pieces from Brahms and Dvorak. Photo courtesy of Eleanor Walsh '25.

In a performance dedicated to welcoming the class of 2025, the Amherst Symphony Orchestra (ASO) played 4 distinct pieces, varying in style, tempo and fame. Led by conductor Mark Swanson, the concert was an acknowledgement of what had been lost during the year without live performance. Buckley Recital Hall with more than eighty students on stage was a powerful sight. The orchestra played fluently and compellingly, and it was clear that they had spent the year of Covid-19 maintaining community and practicing together as much as they could. ASO had a second concert on Oct. 23 for Parents weekend, and continue with a third concert on Nov. 13, featuring Sir Edward Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme (“Enigma”).

Deathtrap

Matt Vitelli '24 and Isabelle Anderson '25 play an embittered husband and wife in "Deathrap," separated by financial squabbles and Vitelli's character's creative stagnation as a playwright. Photo courtesy of Alex Brandfonbrener '23.

Green Room’s second production of the semester was Ira Levin’s murder mystery thriller “Deathtrap,” directed by Caspian Rabaia ’24. The production converted the Octagon — an entirely unique space on campus — into the home of past-his-prime playwright Sydney and his wife. Lit by lamps with yellow paper shades and the glow of a fireplace, “Deathtrap” made the most of the Octagon, which was originally a back-up location. Strong acting by all five cast members and the meta framework of Levin’s script made for an unforgettable ambiance: funny, tense and slow-burning. It was the kind of show that could only be put on by college students, for college students.