Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 1, 2019


Omar Gadzhiev played an eccentric chief of police who repeatedly berated his force. However, is loyal companions like Officer Rooks, played by Brandon Gurrola, continued to help him look for cocaine suppliers.
Photo by MU Theatre Society

Original Comedy ‘Down the Street’ Debuts at Manchester University

Ryan Daine


The dizzyingly chaotic and obscene one-act play “Down the Street” made its two-night debut at Cordier Auditorium this past weekend, to the delight of a mature audience. The R-rated show was presented by the University’s Theatre Society, a completely student-run organization that draws in talented actors, technicians and directors who are passionate about the stage and all of its unique elements. With two nights of performances, audience members could choose which weekend evening felt appropriate to immerse themselves in the antics and humor of comedy theatre.

The show opens with an all-but-gentle narration from a curious Irishman, English major Jacob Hamilton, who saunters around the stage while he lets his silver tongue, loosened by the alcohol in the flask clipped to his waist, describe the chaotic nature of the mean streets of Manhattan, laying a wild scene for the future narrative. Suddenly, in a flash, gunfire and wanton destruction grip the beautifully decorated 1950’s street corner scene, as actors and ac-tresses dressed as common citizens rush around the stage in a flurry, and dart off the stage.

After the settling of the gun smoke, audience members are introduced to the protagonist of the show, a young and ambitious parcel delivery man, named Johnny, played by criminology major Christian Poole. This brief introduction of Johnny is one of the few moments where the play slows down the chaotic nature of it all. Within this short span, a young woman walking down the street catches our protagonist’s eye, and an innocent bag of cocaine is slipped into one of the packages on his dolly, up the rest of the show as a result. What follows is an enjoyably chaotic narrative involving an unwarranted arrest, undercover police work, mafia-style organized crime (with a flair of utterly tenacious goofiness, of course.), love, betrayal, and a massive plot twist; it really is everything anyone over the age of 18 could want in a comedy show, and more.

What is perhaps the most impressive aspect of this production is the fact that the whole process, from casting to set building, advertising to rehearsal scheduling, was all a student-led process. Even the script itself is originally written by a student at Manchester, who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being. Theatre Society works diligently to put on spectacular shows, with little time to produce and rehearse, and earning no profit from performances; shows are usually free to audience members, both student and not.

All in all, “Down the Street” is both a wonderfully written and cast show that offers an over the top and lighthearted look at what was an otherwise extremely dark and dangerous decade for New York City. Transforming a terrifyingly gritty chapter in history into one that is bubbling with emotion and antics is an experiment that may seem confusing on paper, but when executed on stage, makes for an experience where the chemistry of characters and setting alike blends together into an extremely well-executed piece, and a wonderfully performed show through and through.