“Is He Dead?” dresses to impress

The upcoming student production of Mark Twain’s “Is He Dead?” is predicted to have the audience dying – of laughter.

Frankie Davidson, sophomore English major who plays Papa Leroux, has acted in five John Brown University productions and expressed excitement about working with this cast.

“There is a huge collection of talent in this group,” Davidson said.

Fletcher Lowe, sophomore management major who plays Dutchy, has been acting for 10 years. Lowe said “this is one of the funniest casts” he has ever worked with.

The cast will perform a newly discovered work by Mark Twain. The play’s director, Jan Lauderdale, said that the work was “written in 1898 and adapted by David Ives to be performed on the modern stage.”

“The play prides itself on being good writing, but lends itself to being ridiculous on stage,” Lowe said.

The narrative focuses on artist Jean-Francois Millet, played by Josiah Coroama, sophomore Christian ministry and formation major. In the play, Millet fakes his own death and disguises himself as his twin sister.

To switch identities, Coroama appears in a dress following the first act.

“There’s just something funny about a man wearing a dress,” Lauderdale said. “At our first read-through, it took forever to get through it because we were all laughing so hard.”

Coroama hopes everyone will take him dressing up as a woman lightheartedly. “The focus is humor,” Coroama said. “Sometimes there’s humor at the expense of controversy.”

Lauderdale explained that mistaken identity is a common comedic device used by many writers. “Shakespeare used mistaken identity a lot, and Mark Twain used it in almost every one of his novels,” Lauderdale said.

Along with mistaken identity, cast members explained how the play also uses a wide variety of comedic devices.

“Every single style of comedy is in this production: wordplay, physical comedy, wit, dry humor,” Coroama said. “Every character contributes a style of comedy.”

The cast will perform Feb. 17-25 at Berry Performing Arts Center. The recommended age of attendance is 8 and older.