By Stephanie Ottey
This season, the students and faculty at Youngstown State University have delivered hit after hit. To follow successes such as “Rent” and “Broke-ology,” the university is now showing “Gemini,” a boisterous play that follows the “don’t miss” trend of the season.
“Gemini” is an adult comedy written by Albert Innaurato that was first produced in the 1970s. It centers around Francis Geminiani, a student at Harvard, who struggles to find an identity amid a motley bunch of neighbors and friends. He is embarrassed by his family when two friends from school surprise him for his birthday, and days of discomfort and self-discovery follow.
The cast of characters surrounding Francis are what make the play so wickedly funny.
Cameron Beebe and Carly Magnuson play brother and sister Randy and Judith Hastings. The two carry themselves with parallel energies and share a bond that is true to that of siblings. Beebe is buoyant and young, appropriate for the boyish Randy, and Magnuson’s Judith is passionate.
Josh Fleming is a remarkably believable father to Francis, despite his actual age. As Fran, he maintains a physical and vocal presence on stage that ages him substantially in an impressive performance.
Natalie Martzial creates a Lucille Pompi, girlfriend to Fran, that is a cross between Fran Dreshcer and Marge Simpson.
Another stand-out comedic performance comes from Rebecca Anderson. Her take on insane neighbor Bunny is fresh, spirited and hilarious. Likewise, Alexander Samuels is captivating as her obsessive son Herschel. Samuels is undeniably committed to his character.
In the midst of these unique characters is Francis, played simply by John Cruz. The character is pale compared to the rainbow of personalities around him, but Cruz uses this to create dimension in his relationships. A smart performance.
It’s clear that director Schilling took care to work with the group as a whole, allowing them a level of comfort with one another that promotes strong teamwork and improvisation. Together, the cast maintains a solidarity that makes scenes feel natural.
Matt Malloy, stage manager, Anne Duffy, assistant stage manager, and Katie Gintert, properties master, deserve special recognition for their superior efforts in maintaining the large amounts of food products eaten (and thrown) in this production. They have no easy task in wrangling such a prop-heavy show.