By Zoe Wolfe, 11th Grade, Hunter College High SchoolA Separate Peace, by John Knowles, is considered to be one of those “great American novels.” It was written sometime in the first third of the 20th century and usually incites a chorus of groans after the title is even mentioned. Okay, maybe it’s just me who groans at the very title, but I was surprised to see that anyone had decided to turn it into a play. And not just any play, but a solo show. As I sat down to watch, I had thoughts of boring English classes and readings swirling in my head, but as soon as the show started, they all disappeared. The star of the show, Brian Foyster, captivates the audience immediately. With a slight southern accent, he tells the story of the summer of 1942 at an all-boys boarding school. As in the novel, Foyster takes on the role of Gene, the narrator, but he often interjects himself, becoming Phineas, Gene’s best friend or other, less important characters. Even though he is just one person and does not change clothes, it is always clear which character he is. There are times when the difference between Phineas and Gene is just a leg being extended. Foyster captures the feelings of both young men very well. He has a reckless but nervous energy about him and he isn’t afraid to dive into the characters.
As the play progresses and the close friendship between Phineas and Gene is compromised, having one actor play both characters shows the audience just how similar both of the friends are. Their friendship falls apart over petty jealousy and some misunderstandings. Phineas and Gene seem to be very different people, but their similarities are revealed. These similarities are not a flaw in Foyster’s acting or an inability to separate the two characters, but rather a deep understanding of the two friends. *Plog Pick Schedule and ticket information here.