VST promises fun escape at ‘Don’t Drink the Water!’

Katie Armstrong

Imagine encountering communists, propaganda and mistaken identities all during your next family vacation. That doesn’t sound like something that usually evokes riotous laughter, but this play promises comedy.

For its first show of the 2010-’11 season, Villanova Student Theater, the undergraduate campus theater group, is presenting Woody Allen’s “Don’t Drink the Water!”

While on the last leg of their European tour, New Jersey natives Walter Hollander, his wife Marion and daughter Susan are suspected of espionage and almost arrested in the communist country of Vulgaria after accidentally wandering into a restricted area and snapping photos. The Hollanders are granted asylum in the American Embassy, but instead of finding sanctuary, they must dodge mayhem, danger and even madness before escaping in a truly comedic fashion.

“Don’t Drink the Water!” is popular for its slapstick-comedy style and loose satire.

Set in 1963, the play is considered a farce that mocks political relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.

“The theme basically reflects how foreign relations can be absolutely absurd, and by extension, relations between people can be absurd,” says VST Vice President and Director Elizabeth Marafino. “The characters in the play are mostly ridiculous. For example, the New Jersey couple are constantly bickering and making everything more complicated. Allen mocks the interaction in international relations throughout the Cold War, imitating that people were so grounded in anti-Communist ideologies that they didn’t solve anything.”

However, VST’s production is meant to be more than a recap of Cold War era history. It’s meant to be a knee-slapping good time.

“It’s a great way to relax before the stress of finals,” VST President and lead actor in the show Ryan Kirchner says. “It’s a fun and funny show to see. If you’re a fan of Hawaiian shirts, this play is for you.”

While “Don’t Drink the Water!” does have some historical grounding, its ultimate goal is to keep play-goers on the edge of their seats.

Marafino said that VST traditionally presents a comedy for its first show of the season.

“Through comedy, VST tries to bring in audiences and show people that we have a talented cast who can bring joy to your evening,” she says. “I hope that audiences see that VST is worth coming back to and that we provide great entertainment and quality theater to campus. If audiences leave with their sides splitting from laughter, then VST has done its job.”

Kirchner guarantees that audience members will get back the price of admission in laughter alone.

“Come, take a collective deep breath and enjoy the show,” Marafino says.

“Don’t Drink the Water!” will be showing Tuesday, Nov. 9 through Saturday, Nov. 13 in St. Mary’s Auditorium.

Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with an extra showing at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Ticket prices are $7 for students and $10 for others. For the Tuesday showing, all tickets are $5.

Tickets are on sale at Connelly Center from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. now through Monday, Nov. 8. Tickets are also available in St. Mary’s before each show time.