Journey to the fall play

Amy Miyahara, Asst. A&E Editor

Keeping up with the plot of drama’s fall production is no easy task. Nonetheless, an engaging cast made watching “Journey to the West” a thoroughly entertaining experience.  

Based on the novel by Wu Cheng’en, “Journey to the West” follows the Buddhist monk Tripitaka (Matthew Lee) on his journey to retrieve Buddhist scriptures. Three disciples, all hoping to redeem themselves before the Gods, are appointed by Buddha (Nina Wang) to accompany Tripitaka on his journey: Sun Wukong (Nicholas Azurin), Baje (Daniel Durkee) and Sha Monk (Amelia Anijelo).

As the lead character, Lee delivered a strong performance and was especially humorous when portraying Tripitaka’s anxiety.

Other standout performances include those of Azurin, Durkee and Anijelo. As the cocky, hyperactive monkey king, Azurin brought the perfect amount of enthusiasm into his role. He seemed to never run out of energy and was constantly cartwheeling and somersaulting throughout the entire play. Durkee was also believable and funny as the gluttonous pig, Baje.

But most impressive was Anijelo’s performance as the river monster Sha Monk. Anijelo was expressive and absolutely hilarious in her role, captivating the audience’s attention in every scene in which she appears.

As a whole, the entire cast did an outstanding job. Even those in minor roles performed with animated facial expressions and contagious enthusiasm. Their many hours of rehearsal paid off in a near flawless performance.

Multiple fight scenes made the play even more exciting. These scenes were well-executed, appearing realistic and keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

The costumes were impressive and contributed to the atmosphere of the play. The beaded headpieces and long gowns worn by the characters made everything feel more authentic.

The special effects and complex set design were another major plus. The stage extension included multiple trap doors that allowed characters coming out from the underworld or the ocean to actually rise up from under the stage. In addition, in the scenes where Sun Wukong calls on his magical rod to “transform” into a larger weapon, the rod would spring from the stage as if by magic.

One of the few downsides was the production’s three hour playing time, which made the show seem a little lengthy. A shorter production could have moved the story along better, but the time spent was still worth it. The audience, though smaller than expected for a Saturday evening, was enthusiastic and supportive.

In addition, the complicated storyline made the plot hard to follow. As Tripitaka and his disciples jumped from scene to scene and encountered a number of other characters, all of the different interactions made it difficult to keep track of what was going on.

Many points of the play sparked genuine laughter, while a few parts fell a little flat. Overall, “Journey to the West” was a strong production, which bodes well for what the rest of the year has in store from the DBHS drama department.