‘Bob: A Life in Five Acts’ delivers message with comedy

Samantha Wright

On Monday night, the Gordon Wilson Lab Theatre buzzed with conversation and laughter as students waited for the performance to start. 

“Bob: A Life in Five Acts”, written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and presented by special arrangement with the Dramatists Play service, was Monday’s entertainment, and the almost-full room indicated that plenty of people were excited to see it. 

The play opened with four people dressed in black standing at the four corners of the stage. They introduced the start of each act and set the scene: a White Castle in Louisville where Bob, the hero of the story, was to be born and subsequently abandoned. This bizarre genesis set the stage for the rest of the show.

Bob (played by freshman Graham Luker) is adopted by the White Castle employee who finds him, and they go on a road trip across America. The story progresses through members of the Chorus, a throwback to the ancient narration styles of Greek plays. The adventure is staged by having Luker, and Sarah Hall (who plays Chorus 1) sitting on top of a rolling crate pushed around by other members of the Chorus, on a stage painted to look like a map of America.  

Bob’s adopted mother eventually dies, and he ends up living at a rest stop until he is 18, where he meets all sorts of interesting people, all played by the four members of the Chorus.

Asya Hildenbrand, a freshman from Jasper, Indiana, said she liked the play’s different structure.

“I liked the use of the ensemble the best, and how they all played a different character and worked together,” she said.

Eventually, Bob leaves his rest stop and sets off on another road trip across America with the goal of becoming a “great man.”

With each new adventure and character Bob met, the audience exploded into laughter. 

Lexington senior Eric Mattingly, the director of the show, attended Monday night’s performance and said the performance was incredible.

“The audience was having a blast watching this show, and the actors on stage were enjoying themselves so much it radiated all night,” he said via email.

Another aspect of the play was the dance between each act, centered on an ideal or emotion like love, performed by a member of the Chorus,.

Eli Furlong, a freshman from Bowling Green, said the play never let up.

“It had a really good flow. there was no awkward moment where I didn’t feel entertained,” he said.

Over the course of his trip, Bob meets different people and becomes a bitter millionaire. He meets his birth mother, who also dies, but not before making him realize that he never truly accomplished his goal of becoming a great man. 

The Chorus stepped forward and continued the story, telling of all the stories that people had about Bob. Ethan Corder, the member of the Chorus who played Bob’s butler while he was a millionaire, stepped forward and finished the story, telling how Bob finally became happy while living on a beach in Mexico.

The play closes with the Chorus stepping forward as one to give Bob a hug, speaking the one thing it took Bob a lifetime to realize: “You are not alone.”