The Henry Konstantinow Studio Theatre housed its second show of the semester when it opened “The Trouble with Boys”, directed by professor Brian Robertson, on Tuesday night. Written by Alexx Rouse, a BFA playwriting major, “The Trouble with Boys” explores the serious topic of sexual assault and how it affects both the victim and the people surrounding them.
The show opens with a pillow talk scene between character Andrea “Andy” Reynolds, who is played by Caitlyn Thiel, and her boyfriend. Andy, a senior in high school at the start of the show, is in a relationship with her English teacher and school’s baseball coach, Ryan Shaw , who is played by Cody Oppel.
The first handful of scenes are playful and humorous as we get to know Andy and Ryan’s relationship. Also introduced are Michael Scaffer, who is played by Aaron Marshall, and Brandon Rutgers, who is played by Xander Wells.
Michael and Brandon are peers and friends of Andy’s. Michael harbors a crush on Andy and Brandon pokes fun at him for it. The chemistry between Marshall and Wells during their opening shared scenes had the audience laughing on many occasions.
However, the play is quick to turn its attention to a more serious subject matter. Following a big win for the baseball team, Andy shows up to the after party. Coach Shaw has supplied the team with alcohol and by the end of the night, Andy is raped by a group of players from the team.
In the aftermath of the assault, Andy hears the following from the people in her life.
“You can’t get upset about it.”
“Guys get drunk sometimes and shitty things happen.”
“You did this to yourself.”
“Nothing really happened.”
When writing, Rouse wanted this drastic event to shape her story and to represent more than just the event itself.
“I wanted it to be about how women are taught to view themselves and the way they are taught to handle traumatic situations,” Rouse said. “The way that the fallout of something with great magnitude like sexual assault or being pushed in the wrong direction in a relationship can affect everybody around them. And just ultimately how people learn to heal and get over that.”
The play was set up black box style in room 118 of the Fine Arts building. This room is home to “The Konstantinow Studio Series” – a collection of completely student-produced productions.
Because of the black box style room no drastic measures were taken set wise. Black blocks were shuffled around and used as various different pieces of furniture (i.e., desks in classrooms, benches outside, etc.) and lighting helped set the mood as well as establish times of day.
All of the acting between the characters happened in the middle of the room with the audience surrounding them on all sides.
Between research, multiple drafts and editing, Rouse estimates she spent around three years writing this play. She is proud of the way the cast has been able to handle such a serious subject matter and the way they help make the story about more than just that.
“If somebody left the play and the only thing they were talking about is ‘oh my god a girl got raped in that play’ then I didn’t do my job,” Rouse said. “They’re [the cast] doing a really good job at making it not about that, but about the relationships. It is about the event, but not the exact moment. It’s the fallout.”
“The Trouble with Boys” will run three more times with performances at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2 and Dec 3. and a final showing at 2 p.m. on Dec. 6.