Skip to content
Inside Beat

College Avenue Players work their magic with 'Wacky Hijinks'

The College Avenue Players' recent fantasy sketch show, "Wacky Hijinks," capped off a significant semester for the troupe. – Photo by Evan Leong

Last weekend, the College Avenue Players (CAP) transported Rutgers—New Brunswick to the Middle Ages with its annual sketch comedy show "Wacky Hijinks," this year's rendition themed to medieval times and fantasy.

While past productions, like the troupe's Halloween, "Five Nights at Freddy's"-inspired sketch show, may have alienated audiences and suffered from a lack of substantive source material, the return to a broader genre opened the creative floodgates. Whether it's 1975's "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" or last year's "Dungeons & Dragons," medieval lore has always served as a rich tapestry for satire.

Upon entering Room 135 in Scott Hall on the College Avenue campus, which may as well serve as a residence for some of CAP's longest-tenured members, the first thing that caught most audience members' attention was the unmistakable anticipation filling the room. The room reverberated with the melodies of lutes and harps emanating from the speakers as patrons turned to each other, wondering what antics the cast would be up to this time.

As the lights dimmed, the first sketch, "A Duel," written by School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Cedric Gillo, set the tone for the night. Despite its admittedly simple premise of two knights getting caught up in the needlessly convoluted rules of their sword fight, the performances of School of Arts and Sciences juniors Fey Somoye and Ariel Rivera, adopting over the top, English accents, created a memorable opening.

From there, the directors took to the stage for the customary pre-show spiel in theater productions: locate your nearest exit, silence all cell phones, no flash photography — the time during shows most people use to check their emails. In what could've completely halted the momentum of the show, the incorporation of a prop scroll, coupled with the presence of a looming dragon, enhanced the experience.

By now, it was clear that if you were looking for Shakespearean-level acting, this wasn't the event for you. But, if you were looking for distraction on a Saturday night, it was worth the relatively cheap price of admission.

After the announcements, the show kept on rolling through its nine-segment first act, with a standout including the exploration ethics of a Genie's wish granting in "Two More Wishes," written by Ryan Fallon, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

The first act was a relatively enjoyable watch with only a few duds, something that is to be expected with a variety show. But as the production transitioned into its second act, some of its weaknesses became apparent, namely its overdrawn runtime. While the concepts behind sketches like "Family Guy" and "High Fantasy" were amusing, they didn't necessarily warrant such lengthy execution.

Another one of the weaker throughlines throughout the show was its reliance on pop culture. Whether it was a sketch themed around Shrek committing tax fraud, a man just now learning about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards or nods to fantasy video games sprinkled throughout, these references often came at the behest of punchlines.

The fantasy theme did create a cohesive structure for the show and set expectations but, ironically, some of the best sketches had nothing to do with dragons, knights or imaginary goblins.

One of the only non-fantasy skits, "Murder in the Red Panda Express," written by Sam Guenzburger, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and the spotlight operator for CAP's tech crew, was just the right amount of absurd.

In the scene, an aloof pair of customers mistake a Red Panda Express for a murder mystery dinner — from there, the jokes wrote themselves. Patrick-Flynn Osborne, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, and Catalina Chapman, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, played off each other and the rotating cast of side characters perfectly.

While the writing varied throughout the program, the camaraderie between the actors was what held everything together.

The often-overlooked tech crew also played a key role in the show's success. Even as sketches began to overstay their welcome, it was the implementation of music by sound designer Ryan Zaken, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, and lighting by designer Emery Clomax, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, that kept things fresh.

"Wacky Hijinks" will conclude a busy semester for the theater group, which included the troupe putting on its first-ever full-length, student-written play, "Teen Spirit." With the actors operating at peak performance, the writers' pen games as strong as ever and the tech crew going above and beyond, the collective will surely continue to surprise in the fall semester.

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe