“Arby Carmichael Killed a Mountain Lion” a play written by Clark student, Sean Morrow, had its second and final showing in The Little Center, Saturday, April 17th.
As the lights went down in the small, tightly-packed black box theater, the writer stepped out from behind the black walls to thank the audience and warn them about some projectiles and loud noises throughout the play. However, these things would not be the most attention-grabbing aspects of his comedic play.
The play loosely revolves around the title character, Arby Carmichael, and the general responses to his heroic actions, also given away in the title. Arby was once a simple high school student who went off to college, found himself battling a mountain lion over a turkey sandwich, and is now just trying to live a regular life. His accomplishments now are a little less heroic, like taking on the “ten pound taco challenge” at his local Mexican restaurant.
Some of the funniest scenes in the play involve Sid, a very uptight, erratic, and spontaneous man who Arby visits about a book deal. Everyone of Sid’s responses is accompanied by nervous movement, addressing Arby with an awkwardly affectionate nickname, loud barks and shouts, and the occasional smashing of a plastic shot glass with a mallet. Just as he and Arby are getting to the meat of the meeting, Sid needs an escape. He reaches into his desk drawer and pulls out a heavy, dark blue, plastic glove laced with the fictional drug “dripomine.” As soon he slips it over his hand, Sid is out cold. He comes back only moments later, having seen “what the surface of Saturn is like.” Arby, who is just your average kid who happened to kill a mountain lion, is naturally freaked out… especially when Sid pulls out a gun to go kill the postman for sending him a bomb in the mail.
This same abstract, momentarily provocative, and often vulgar humor filled the play, making it both perplexing and funny. Oddly enough, the play was very morbid; all of the characters are eventually murdered and find themselves in the afterlife. There is also female on male rape. Despite these somewhat disturbing undertones, “Arby Carmichael Killed a Mountain Lion” remains comical through its abrupt subject changes and frank, pungent language.
Moments of the play are also thought provoking. Arby’s friend Steve postulates that death is like a dream. The same chemical released in the brain that triggers the dream is only released for a split second, and the dream can feel like it lasts for hours. Perhaps then, Steve suggests, when one dies, the afterlife is the result of a final chemical reaction, giving us an eternal sensation that is like whatever we expect the afterlife to be. All of this hypothesizing is diagramed by Steve using the messy remnants of their meal at a taco stand. The play does a good job of keeping the audience on their feet. It pulls away before getting too heavy and jumps randomly from one idea to the next.