Mystery and mayhem rule

Mystery and mayhem rule The University of South Dakota Department of Theatre brings a season of mystery and mayhem to the stage in 1998-99. The action begins Oct. 7-11 with The Birthday Party, a dark comedy by Harold Pinter. Here we have a birthday party unlike any other.

The owners of a dilapidated boarding house give a surprise party for their boarder, a mysterious chap who has been in hiding for a year. When a strange man and his Irish henchman show up, the party games turn cruel. A classic of the modern theatre, The Birthday Party promises to shock, amuse and leave audiences scratching their collective heads.

The Innocents, William Archibald's stage adaptation of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, will be performed Nov. 18-22. This popular ghost story features two precocious orphans, a governess, a cook, and the spirits of a former caretaker and maid-phantoms who have corrupted souls of the innocents. Audiences can expect spine-tingling terror and surprise with this American classic.

It isn't often that the president of a country is also that country's foremost playwright and former dissident. Such is the case with Vaclav Havel, president of Czechoslovakia and author of Largo Desolato, a highly charged political play which takes the USD Theatre stage Feb. 24-28.

In Largo Desolato, professor Leopold Nettles, author of a book that contains a troublesome paragraph, faces charges of "disturbing the intellectual peace." The pressures that the government brings to bear on him lead to a comic yet terrifying portrait of the writer in the totalitarian state.

Mayhem abounds on stage with the season closer, Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. Mistaken identity, improbable plot twists and the hijinks of such memorable characters as the drunken Sir Toby Belch, the foolish Andrew Aguecheek and the devilish Maria, make Twelfth Night one of dramatic literature's most enduring comedies. Twelfth Night plays April 21-25.

All productions are in Theatre I of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts. The Department of Theatre is pleased to acknowledge sponsorship support for the 1998-99 season from Lacy Lovelies, Alcester and Domino's Pizza, Vermillion.

Tickets go on sale for The Birthday Party Sept. 28. Box office hours are 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

To make reservations for The Birthday Party or to order season tickets, please call the USD Theatre box office at (605) 677-5400.

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