Roadkill Tells Intimate Tale of Sexuality

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Four friends embark on a road trip in a story of empowerment and confrontation. Courtesy Michael O'Hara.

By Rebecca Coates-Finke

Signs directed the way to the Bunker in Freeman International Center as audience members made their way to the premiere of Roadkill, the senior work of Tosca Giustini ’15.5 and Leah Sarbib ’15.5. Running from Nov. 19-21, the devised play explores four different friends’ connections to a girl named Lindsey McPherson, described by Giustini as “a reflection of the other characters, their hopes and desires.” At various points throughout the play, each character shares stories about their relationship with this girl, all of which are sexual or romantic in some way.

The story takes place in a world that producer and director Giustini called “a heightened representation of our media’s obsession with sex.” While the main action follows four friends, played by Kathleen Gudas ’16.5, Lorena Neira ’17, Will Lupica ’18 and Kean Haunt  ’17, on a road trip to New York City, the underlying socio-cultural commentary unfolded through recordings created by Sarbib. If these recordings sounded familiar, it is because they were written and recorded in the style of their inspirations, which included the organization Christian Mothers Against Masturbation, literotica based on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, an NPR segment and more.

Sarbib referred to scenes featuring the recordings as “unreality scenes,” since they offered “a good way to make the points that we couldn’t make with the characters and a good way to preserve some of the work we did with the actors in rehearsal.”

The set was cleverly constructed, with metal poles forming the car in which the majority of the play takes place. When four of the characters get in a car accident near the end of the show, the actors meticulously disassembled the metal pieces, transforming the skeleton into a wreck at their feet. Small white pieces of paper decorated the floor, enabling the performers to create a dream-like atmosphere as they tossed them into the air.

Throughout the show, Lindsey McPherson, played by Caitlyn Meager ’17, represents and articulates taboos and myths of sexuality. From everyone else’s point of view, her character is all-knowing and constantly in control. She has also caused her friends a great deal of frustration and anger, leading them to finally confront her at a club in New York City. In this way, the car ride becomes a space of empowerment for the other four characters.

For the audience, these confrontations, while harsh, felt necessary and real. After all, these are people recognizing their hurt and claiming that they deserve better. But once Lindsey McPherson is left alone on stage, we are given the opportunity to see something softer and far more complicated, as she ends the play repeating, “I just want to be loved.”

Last weekend’s performance of Roadkill succeeded in being both funny and poignant. Because so much of the content was drawn from media representations in our lives and from the personal experiences of college students, the work was also vastly relatable for many viewers.

In describing her influences, Sarbib wrote: “… the line between our real lives and our play lives often got blurry – we’d end up talking about the play all the time and things from our lives would inspire ideas outside of rehearsal … I’ve been influenced by things I’ve seen and lived and this idea has been brewing for so long now that, with a few exceptions, it’s difficult to pinpoint what comes from where.”