'Bystander: 9/11' a poignant, promising work from student
Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 22:05
Bystander: 9/11, written by Meron Langner (GRAD), depicts a plethora of stories from those who witnessed hijacked airplanes crash into the skyline of New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. Langner's artistic style is evident in the play's shifting style and most resembles the work of film director Christopher Nolan. Langner's central focus is on the narrator's story, which is frequently interrupted by remarks from the two other actors. This contributes to the fluidity of the play, and allows for diverse perspectives to be expressed. The plot focuses on a Wall Street employee, played by Douglas Van Hollen, whose habitual late sleeping saved his life on Sept. 11. Upon feeling a rumble in the subway station, Van Hollen explains his character's initial thoughts on what possibly occurred, never imagining that terrorists had just piloted airplanes into the World Trade Center. Van Hollen's primary narrative is juxtaposed with the raw emotions and experiences of other New Yorkers on Sept. 11. Cary Fisher portrays a woman who seeks the company of others, while Van Hollen tells the story of a fire fighter who wanted to reflect on the day's events alone.
Fisher plays numerous characters with both passion and sorrow. She tells of an encounter with an older man in a business suit who was vomiting helplessly in the street. His tie was swinging hopelessly in the path of his vomit. Out of instinct, she went over to him, put her arm around him, and held his tie back. Fisher's tale is acted with the emotion and believability that a true witness would have displayed.
Bystander's third actor, Jake Barnett, has a similar role to Fisher, as he depicts people's encounters from a diversity of perspectives. Barnett's intensity and zeal help to underscore the true emotions of New Yorkers on that fateful day. He plays the role of a subway worker, a student at New York University, and a teenager, all with uniqueness and precision, using an ever-so-familiar New York accent to make those in the audience feel as though Barnett is truly the characters he claims to be.
Bystander: 9/11 is a reflection of the themes surrounding the attack on the World Trade Center. Analogous to the implications of the title, it is a distressing play, as one can't ignore the fact that thousands of people died on Sept. 11, 2001. The play is fast-paced and cleverly orchestrated. The small audience appeared to have enjoyed Langner's writing as it allowed them to vividly remember the terrorist attacks that were instantly etched into history.