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Comedy on Campus: A Review of “Is He Dead?”

The past two weekends, the JHU Barnstormers have been working hard to put up “Is He Dead?” as their fall main stage production. Written by Mark Twain in 1898, the play was adapted by renowned playwright, David Ives within the last ten years. The story of a destitute painter desperate to sell his paintings, the show takes a comical and morbid turn when the painter’s friends develop an elaborate plan to “kill” him, and dress him up as his fictional sister, with the intention of increasing the value of his paintings. For as we all know (of course), an artist’s work is far more valuable once the painter is deceased. As it happens in every good comedy, a series of unfortunate misunderstandings transpire.

While the script itself already had the makings of an interesting show, the energy and talent brought to the stage was solely the doing of the director, actors, and committed crew. David Gram’s careful direction left not one dull moment on stage. The actors’ professionalism and charisma shone through well-timed sight gags in conjunction with Twain’s wit. Starring Hopkins’ finest cast of characters, we saw some familiar faces (like our Campus Celebrity, Matt Moores), as well as some new talent. Ian Markham, a freshman in the show, enjoyed his experience with the Barnstormers as much as the audience enjoyed watching it.

“I had so much fun working on this show,” said Markham. “It has been so much fun and the cast and crew are so wonderfully eccentric.”

Well said, Ian. We can’t wait to see what else the Barnstormers have in store for us!

To keep updated with The Barnstormers, check out their website, www.jhubarnstormers.com

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