By Alex MacDougall
Beast on the Moon is a story like many other great American tales — it is the story of two immigrants who come to America in hopes of bettering their lives. Unlike other American stories, however, these two come to America fleeing the systematic destruction of their people and the extermination of their families.
Performed at the Fuller Theater at Worcester State and featuring a cast of student actors, the play was performed in recognition of the 100 year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in which over one million Armenians lost their lives at the hands of the Turks during World War I.
The play begins with Aram (Eddie Sanchez) receiving his new mail-order bride Seta (Angela Georger), hoping to start a new family in 1920s, Milwaukee. Immediately we notice that the two are far from perfect for each other. Aram appears controlling and expects an obedient wife, while Seta, at 15, still clutches a doll and seems completely unprepared for marriage. Though the characters are out of sync with each other, the actors are not: Georger and Sanchez do an excellent job conveying each character’s’ strengths and weaknesses, as they both struggle to cope with the suffering the genocide has heaped upon them.
Though the set features a minimal amount of props, the actors use them to great effect; the house is little more than a table and some chairs, but it’s enough for Seta to barricade herself with when Aram tries to rush the family into having some children, or for Aram to flip a chair in anger. A film recorder is used to display a large close-up of Seta’s face on a screen behind the set, showing her emotional distress as she struggles to connect with Aram, who hides his own grief at losing his family behind a stoney demeanor.
The second act also introduces Vincent, an Italian orphan boy taken in by Seta (played by John Bethel, in a show-stealing performance). Though appearing wisecracking and confident, it becomes apparent that Vincent suffers from the same grief of Aram and Seta. It is in this act that the true emotional toll the characters face come to light, as they each struggle with their own inner demons.
Overall, the play is one about survival, and of the toll genocide takes — it leaves wounds that never truly heal. Full of both humor and melodrama, Beast on the Moon does justice in telling the story of the Armenian Genocide.