‘Figments’ of Friends Theater’s Imagination


Courtesy of Friends Theater

A scene from the Friends School production of ‘Figments’

Charlie Wayner, Contributor

Once again this November, the Friends School Theater Program amazed audiences through unforgettable performances and skilled directing. But this year’s Fall Play had a style different than any past show.

Set in the late 1970s, the plot of this year’s play, Figments, was somewhat traditional. What sets this show apart is the wild imagination of main character Rick Jacobs, portrayed excellently by senior Penn Hoen.

Throughout the show, Jacobs, a famous playwright, struggles with writer’s block. He is stuck on an opening scene, and every time he goes through the scene in his head, the four characters, or figments of his imagination, appear on stage.

Whenever Jacobs goes over the scene in his head, it starts with Veronica, played by junior Ana Lane, rushing into the room. Scared for her life, she looks around to find her lover, David, in the closet, dying from a gunshot wound. Veronica then turns to see Winston, her other lover, who shot David. Louise, the 4th figment, walks in trying to stop Winston from shooting Veronica – and fails.

This scene is repeated throughout the entire show, as Jacobs thinks through the scene over and over in his head as he tries to solve his writer’s block. Many variations of the scene occur, including a rendition by his mother, and another where the scene is explained in as much detail as possible. The mental state of the characters mirrored that of Jacobs in each version.

As Act Two of the play itself begins to wrap up, Jacobs finally cures his writer’s block. He fixes the structure of his show and figures out how to make the opening scene work.

When he is not writing the script, Jacobs’ imagination is still present in every scene. For every scene that takes place in reality, the same scene is going simultaneously with another set of actors for the same characters.

Not understudies, but figments of Jacob’s imagination acting out how life is happening in his head. Even Jacobs has an actor, sophomore Graham Rifkin, playing an imaginary version of himself. For every scene occurring, the same scene occurs the way Jacobs sees it in his head.

Jacobs even has figments of his imagination from the past. He interacts with his ex-girlfriend Sarah, skillfully played by senior Maren Helmacy, and his late father Pop, who both add witty comments about their experience with Jacobs.

Played by upperclassmen Amina West, Ruskin Nohe-Moren, Ana Lane, and Quinn Parker, the four figments of Jacobs’ imagination come to life, stealing every scene they’re in.

“They were all good and worked so well together,” says Hoen, whose favorite part of the show was acting in the scenes when the figments of Jacobs’ imagination were on stage.

Hoen also feels that he was challenged with his role, being the most difficult part he’s portrayed in a non-musical production. In addition to the amount of dialogue, it was “definitely the most” that he had “to be on stage for a role.” He certainly enjoyed the growth as an actor that came along with it.

Director Rob Oppel felt that it was good to challenge the actors with “a comedy of this type.” He had never done this style of play with the students before and was glad to be able to do it.

The meta style of the play where another play is being written inside of it is always fascinating to see and hasn’t been done recently in a Friends production.

Figments goes into the depths of what is in the deepest part of imagination, making the audience wonder how we can all fantasize about our own perfect lives and dream of ourselves doing bold acts. Rick Jacobs does this many times throughout the show, eventually mustering the courage and asking Sarah to go on a date. To this, she responds, yes!

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the show is the relatable aspect of one’s imagination. Playing out a moment in our heads the way we’d like it to happen, imagining closure with past friends, these are things we all do from time to time. Seeing this come to life through the lead character was a great bonus feature of the play.

Figments was fresh, exciting, and added another exciting comedy to the list of Friends School productions. Highest regards to the cast, crew, and director. It’s safe to assume no one can wait for the next addition to Friends Theater.