Fledgling pelicans are seldom fed by their parents. The newest Basement Arts production, “The Pelican,” draws a parallel between this animal behavior and human problems. The story focuses on two siblings, Gerda and Frederik, whose mother has long forced them to believe they are in a dire financial situation. Poorly fed and forced to constantly fret over monetary concerns, the siblings slowly begin unveiling the lies that define their lives.

The Pelican

Tomorrow and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Studio One, Walgreen Drama Center
Free


The show, written by Swedish playwright August Strindberg in 1907, alternates between humorous and tragic moods. Riddled with deception, intrigue and adulterous love, it has been noted for its compelling plot.

Doron Bloomfield, a senior in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance and the play’s director, believes the dysfunctional nature of the family makes the show more interesting than a generic domestic drama.

“A lot of theater focuses on family and domestic situations,” Bloomfield said. “But this play shows family members who alternately relate to each other like they’re strangers and then like intimate lovers, which is probably an abstracted truth about all families.”

This type of “abstracted truth” may not be familiar to some students except in pieces of classic literature they may have read, like “Oedipus Rex,” that discuss similar traumatic familial issues to the those portrayed in “Pelican.”

The classic idea of a family torn apart by lies and deceit is something Kendall Chappell, a junior in the School of Art & Design, believes is something everybody sees to a lesser extent in their own families.

“Everyone has a dysfunctional family,” said Chappell, who plays Margaret the maid. “Everyone goes through the time in their lives where they think their mother is the worst or their father is the worst. It’s very relatable in the sense that (Gerda and Frederik) band together to overcome their mother.”

Bloomfield also believes the parsimonious nature of the family and their concern with the material is something every college student will eventually have to deal with, though it may not be to the extent of the issues in “Pelican.”

“They focus on problems of money, especially heating and electricity costs, and groceries,” Bloomfield said. “In the current economy especially, these are issues we all face everyday — or we will soon. As college students, many of us have been paying bills and rent for a while now, and some of us are just beginning to confront these realities.”

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