XU Theatre presents “One” of a kind drama

By Chloe Salveson, multimedia show manager
Photo courtesy of @xaviertheatre on Instagram

I will be honest: I wasn’t too thrilled to spend my Saturday night watching three very long monologues on my computer. But, what the heck, I love theater. And now, I love One by Joseph McDonough.

The entirety of the show is composed of three characters: a nun with a sex drive, a narcisstic Hollywood actor and a grieving Emily Dickinson lover. 

Before I saw the production, I would not have believed these three vastly different characters would in any way, shape or form. Yet, their lives become intertwined through the lost love letters of a doomed Civil War soldier, and each story effectively portrays heartbreaking loss, overwhelming regret and gut-wrenching loneliness. 

Hats off to Kelsey Schwarber, Thomas Wehby and Amara Shroba. In the first few words of each of their scenes, I knew there’d be a powerful emotional appeal, as each had very strong acting. Not to mention, I cannot imagine the memorization that was involved. 

My favorite character, you might ask? The lighting designer. From the color to the fade, I was thoroughly impressed with every transition. The set and props were minimal, but the lighting made up for the lack of scenery. I would never have guessed the lights would be the main reason why I was thankful plays would be in the Xavier Theatre once again. 

“The lighting illuminated the importance of their words. (My favorite lighting moment was) when the nun’s hand reached up to the sky, the bright white light illuminated above and behind her, which contrasted with the darkness within herself due to the stark reality of her depressing life,” first-year nursing major Erin Macalintal commented.  

The videography was also exceptional. There were a few times I was reminded of the “Summer Nights” scene from Grease in the best way possible. I almost wondered if the play was meant to be on video, since it was, in my opinion, essential to the mood of the piece. 

“I only watched five minutes of it, but the camera work was well done. It was smooth,” first year Philosophy, Politics and the Public major Cedar Earlywine remarked. “I thought it would be a shot of the whole stage, but instead, the multiple cameras zoomed in and faded out when necessary. I think it added to the thematic elements of the production.” 

Themes of love and loss expressed by the beautiful language and lovely writing style easily translated to the stage. The actors took the imagery of the script and conveyed its verbal illustrations successfully. 

I’m sure I’ve missed a ton of thematic and symbolic nuisances, at no one’s fault but my own. By the end of the show, I was left wondering which story of the troubled souls was the most depressing; one died, one felt the effects of death and one never truly lived. 

Despite their differences, each characters’ story aligned by the end, creating a satisfying full circle moment. I audibly gasped at the last line: “Go on, sister, go on.” 

“While each of these stories seemed like worlds apart, little comments and objects within each story ended up tying everything together, especially with the letters,” Macalintal noted. 

Not everything was tied into a nice, neat little bow, however. I constantly considered what in the world Jill whispered to Kyle at their high school reunion.

And yet, amid my strife, the tragedies in One were nothing less than moving, which is all I could ask for in a theater production. If you were to watch a live production on YouTube, this is the “One.”