The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Clemson Players close season with ‘Split in Three’

Ken Scar, Clemson University

The sets were essential in immersing the audience in the scenes. 

On April 18, the Clemson Players opened their final show of the season, “Split in Three,” a period drama taking place in 1960s Mississippi. The show tackled, or at least attempted to, the reality of the violent racism and hateful worldviews that were present in the era. Last semester, the Clemson Players started very strong in their productions, but ended rather weak. This semester has followed suit.
“Split in Three” follows Nell and Nola Parsons, two sisters living together in a rundown house on the outskirts of a small Mississippi town. Nell, recently divorced and a devout Christian, often bickers with her sister, Nola, who holds a rather raunchy reputation in their town. However, both their worlds are flipped upside down as they discover the existence of their half-sister, Penny.
To Nola’s dismay, Penny calls Nell over the phone frequently until Nell encourages Penny to come visit to finally meet face-to-face. Nell’s excitement to meet disappears when Penny arrives and is revealed to be African-American. The prejudice Nell holds overcomes her—while the gruff, but slightly progressive, Nola tries to facilitate the most welcoming environment she can for a person of color in the South.
The play follows the three and their developing relationship as they learn more about each other, talk about their missing father and discuss the struggles of people of color during desegregation.
As always, I want to acknowledge the good and commendable properties of the show. The three lead actresses had incredible chemistry. Nell and Nola, played by senior performing arts majors Charis Tefft and Ivy Munnerlyn, were an excellent duo whose respectively soft and abrasive personalities undeniably helped to outline the story. As Penny, played by Elizabeth Colson, a 2009 graduate of the Clemson theatre department, is introduced, her northern tone adds needed contrast and sets up some more lighthearted moments.
The remarkable set design was unsurprising as Clemson Players technical and design crew consistently presents immersive and impressive sets. Moments of intensity and drama were made that much more effective thanks to the excellent framing.
Despite strong lead actors and an impressive set, there were still flaws with the show. Sadly, the flaws overshadowed the positive aspects. The script did not lend much to the actors’ performances. The dialogue was unevenly paced, plot points were not clearly connected and the material felt unnecessarily vulgar at times. The character of Clifford, played by senior performing arts major Jacob Nalley, felt like a machine of wannabe philosophical one-liners. Nalley’s performance was good nonetheless and only stifled by poor source material.
Additionally, pacing was in desperate need of correcting. Every conversation seemed to end in a yelling match and I never understood why. The transitions were too vague to keep track of the emotions being conveyed. The subject matter of desegregation and racism is one that requires delicacy and awareness to get the message across. While I am experienced in theatrical critique, my knowledge and merit in critiquing depictions of racism are small, so I refrain from making too many focused comments on that aspect. What I can say is that I felt the show attempted to make one uncomfortable by showcasing the horrid conditions for people of color in the 60s, but it did not need to. Whatever goal it held was overshadowed by its flaws, and both script and performance were focused heavily on those of Caucasian ethnicity rather than people of color.
“Split in Three” was not a performance I can heartily commend to the student body, but, as with any performance that lacks quality, it implores me to wonder and anticipate how they might improve their pitfalls in their next show.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *