Dylan Hares, Staff Writer

The world of literature is oversaturated with coming-of-age stories – especially unimaginative ones. They follow the same pattern, reach the same climax and follow the same conclusion.

They are boring and stale. Such is the case with Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness!

Set on Independence Day during the early 1900s in New England, Ah, Wilderness!”is the story of an upper class family who is genuinely ordinary. Their oldest son goes to Yale and their youngest daughter is peppy and annoying.

Their 17-year-old son, Richard Miller, is a brooding, angst-driven teen who feeds off of the anarchist material of Irish writers such as George Shaw and Oscar Wilde, quoting them and others extensively in long, exhausting and melancholy monologues.

We learn about Richard’s brother Arthur and how the time he has spent at Yale has made him stuck-up.
We learn about Uncle Sid and his excessive drinking and Lilly, the girlfriend he can always come home to when he is drunk and not have to worry about leaving her as long as he looks sorry.

Any information we get about the father and mother, Nat and Essie, does not contribute to the story at all, nor does any action by Mildred, the younger sister.

In fact, most of the information we are given throughout the play is generally useless since the audience only comes to realize at the end that the entire story was about Richard, whom O’Neill constructs as a pretentious idiot who not only gets what he wants by complaining, but can generally get away with anything with his girlfriend and parents.

By the end of the night, Richard Miller is still an unlikeable and whiny teenager whose only lesson learned was that drinking is bad.

The George Mason University Players, on the other hand, were the literal saving grace of the evening. They delivered in spades what we have come to expect of them: a stellar performance.

Each of the actors was animated in their gestures and flawless in their speech.

The rare moments of slapstick comedy brought about genuine laughs from the audience, as well as the cast.

First-time Player, Elijah Sloan, who tackled the role of Richard, was very good in his role.

Odds are he would be exceptional in a character that isn’t as horrible to listen to.

The set design was fantastic and expertly crafted. The costumes, props and speech were all impeccable and compelling in drawing the audience back a hundred years or so.

If it hadn’t been for the expertise of the Mason Theater Department, this production wouldn’t have been nearly as good.

At the end of the night, the production of Ah, Wilderness! was tolerable at best.

Despite the load that Eugene O’Neill dumped onto the cast and the plethora of awkward moments that came with it, the Mason Players certainly delivered wonderful performances.

The one thing that the interchangeable plot of the play has proved is that to come of age, one doesn’t have to necessarily learn anything.