A bug’s-eye view on life

High school’s fall play premieres this week

By Elizabeth Celms
Mercer Island Reporter

It could be the strangest play Mercer Island High School has put on in years. For sure, it’s the buggiest. On Nov. 8, anthropoda and homosapiens will blend as one in “The Insect Play,” the MIHS drama department’s debut fall production.

Through witty dialogue and vivid characters, “The Insect Play” takes a closer look at modern society — through the eyes and antennae of a bug.

The production is at once comic and abstract, light-hearted and insightful, metaphoric and just plain silly. Based on the original 1922 script written by Czech brothers Josef and Karel Capek, the MIHS drama department has re-adapted “The Insect Play” to reflect American society in the 21st century.

“It’s actually really funny,” said drama director Karen Campbell. “But at the same time, the meaning of life is questioned throughout the play.”

Somewhat similar to writer Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” a philosophical short story about a man who wakes up one day as a cockroach, “The Insect Play” takes an existential look at human identity and modern society.

“The play is not as dark as ‘Metamorphosis,’ but it does have a lot of Kafka-esque tones,” Campbell said. “It’s more humorous than dark.”

The Capek brothers are revered in the Czech Republic not only as writers, but as cultural icons of former Czechoslovakia (1918-1992). Josef was an accomplished Cubist painter and Karel worked as a journalist. Together, they wrote two plays, “The Insect Play” and “Rossum’s Universal Robots,” which re-defined Czech theater, eventually becoming famous throughout the world.

Today, traces of the Capek brothers’ “The Insect Play” can be found in American literature, theater and film, the most recent example being the Pixar animated feature “A Bug’s Life” (1998). And this week, the ground-breaking script will come to life at MIHS: a universal story told through the microscopic world of bugs.

The play will be held at the MIHS Auditorium this weekend, Nov. 8-10, and next weekend, Nov. 15-17. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and costs $15 for adults and $10 for students. Discount $5 tickets can be purchased in advance through the MIHS main office during school hours.

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