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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Oswego chapter.

A staged reading of the new one-act play Forwards and Back by Liza Mann was performed on Mar.4 and 5 in Tyler Hall’s Lab Theatre. The play was a labor of love for Mann, who wrote and directed the play, secured the space and time to perform it, and casted six other Oswego students all in the past few months. The show was a great success with an excellent turnout of students, professors, and community members in the audience across its two performances.

Forwards and Back follows Cassie and Wolf, parents to a teenage daughter, as they trace the course of events in their lives all the way back to high school, examining the choices and factors that lead them to where they are today. The characters are portrayed by multiple actors to represent them at different ages, and color symbolism in lighting and costumes work together to support the varying depictions of the characters over time. Each character has a signature color, the shade and tone of which changes to reflect what stage of life the character is in at the time. 

Additionally, the play was intelligently staged so that the distance between actors represents the emotional distance between the characters over time. The actors all did an excellent job with their multiple roles, a true testament to their skills as they had to both play different versions of one character as well as play the same character as one another at different times. It was always very clear who was who at what time, and even if you missed it in the stage directions, it was easy to tell by the acting performances being given. 

The play was a sweet and enjoyable experience that left audience members like myself feeling comforted by its positive ending. That said, the darker and more emotional scenes were well-written and performed, and left many of us anxiously holding our breath through scenes of all-too-real conflict and family angst. Mann and the cast showed a wide range of talent in their ability to create both emotionally charged and comforting scenes.

The script itself is an entertaining and believable story that had me rooting for its characters the whole time. I am especially fond of Cassie and Wolf’s first meeting in college, a scene that excels in showing the characters’ chemistry and features one of my favorite other aspects of the play: casual queer representation! Cassie is bisexual, a detail relevant to her character and background that’s naturally included in the story without being a major focus. I enjoyed seeing this representation, especially given that the majority of plays I’ve read or watched have had exclusively heterosexual characters. 

While the staging of this reading of Forwards and Back was simple, the stage directions paint a clear picture of what a fully-realized production of the play could look like. It was easy to feel immersed in the world and imagine a full set. I would love to someday see a full production of this play.
Everyone involved in Forwards and Back should feel so proud of themselves and the wonderful accomplishment of a show they put on. I am particularly excited to see what Liza Mann does next, and I know I will be there in the audience for anything else she writes or directs!

Olivia is a Creative Writing/Theatre double major and Live Event Design minor in her senior year at SUNY Oswego. She spends her time reading, writing, working in Penfield Library's archives, and learning scenic painting/props/lights/dramaturgy in Tyler Hall.