By Grace Prosniewski, Daily Arts Writer
Published March 27, 2013
At some point during their college career, every student dreams of taking a year off, traveling the world and doing a little soul-searching. Basement Arts’ “Gap Yah,” whose title mimics the British-accented “gap year,” explores and examines the gap year experiences of one group of friends.
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Not to be confused with the popular viral video of the same name, “Gap Yah” is an original work written by Declan Sheahan, a School of Music, Theatre & Dance junior and one-year transfer student from the University of Warwick. “Gap Yah” was one of a few plays chosen by Basement Arts to perform during their winter season.
Sheahan serves as co-director along with MT&D junior Nicole Gellman.
Loosely based on Sheahan’s own gap year experiences, “Gap Yah” focuses on four British seniors as they take a year off from school to travel. In the process, they learn about themselves as individuals and about their relationships within the larger group.
“Someone described it as a coming-of-age play,” Sheahan said, “which I thought was a really good description for that because it deals with a group of people who are trying to find their identity and sort of grow up as a group of people.”
Harold, the protagonist, described by Sheahan as “unsure of himself and into tiddlywinks,” decides to escape troubles in his relationship with the “stunningly hot” Courtney. The tension arises between the two because of Harold’s obliviousness to his luck in finding someone who treats him so well.
His two male friends, William and Quentin, join Harold on his gap year adventures. William is, as Sheahan said, “not the sharpest tool in the shed,” while Quentin acts as the leader of the pack. Also accompanying is Jane, whose over-eagerness in social interactions is a source of annoyance for the group.
Amid the animosity, romance blooms between Quentin and Jane.
“There’s a love tension between Jane and Quentin,” Gellman said. “He treats her at first as his arch-enemy. And then this whole time it’s like, ‘Well, I love you.’ ”
“Quentin, as the leader of the group,” Sheahan said, “articulates a lot of the issues that the group has with Jane at points in the trip, and that love-hate circle sort of crashes over at the end.”
Even though many of the characters work through emotional baggage, “Gap Yah” is first and foremost a comedy.
“The show centers around the conflicts that arise between this group of people as they go traveling, as they battle with troubles they’re having at home, but it’s also a comedy,” Sheahan said. “As a humorous piece, it doesn’t delve too deeply into that. It’s sort of lighthearted and a funny take on British humor.”
And what’s the one thing that the co-directors of “Gap Yah” want their audience to get from the play? As Gellman put it, “Honestly, if they’re just laughing the entire time, I’m good.”