Spectacular cast, high quality video production and editing, beautifully performed and enjoyable music, an impressive degree of wit — this year’s Yale Symphony Orchestra Halloween Show, attended by 2000 inebriated Yalies, should have been a knockout.
The story, loosely based on the Netflix hit show Stranger Things, follows the story of three suitemates’ first week at Yale. Over the course of the first act, they discover that an evil group, the self-proclaimed Cult of the Elder Snake, is invading the school. The film’s heroes then go to a staged “Harvard” (where they believe the cult originated) to stop it before it completely takes over Yale, only to learn that they are too late. The story climaxes when we learn that the person secretly behind this evil organization is none other than their (apparently) missing fourth suitemate, whose existence is only vaguely mentioned earlier.
That — at least, I think — is the plot.
The audience would be as surprised to hear that there was a fully-planned plot within all of the fourth-wall breaks and La Croix roasts as they were when the “missing” fourth suitemate showed up in the last act, and, through the magic of plot-twists, became another protagonist. Unfortunately, a heroic Laurie Santos cameo was not enough to give this “plot” any follow-able coherence.
The one upside of the audience not following the plot — since we all gave up trying eventually — is that they became free to enjoy the humor in the film. And that’s something that the show did right, because, more than anything, it was definitely fun. We, the audience, could tell that the director, Sahaj Sankaran, SM ’20, had as much fun writing the film as the actors had performing it. Although many of the jokes about Yale and Ivy culture fell flat, there were a few subtler, sharper jabs that truly soared. Well-executed Cornell roasts will always score a laugh, and a copy of the Yale Daily News scaring away the Yale College Council cult was hilarious.
Overall, despite its convoluted plot, this year’s YSO Halloween show still struck a chord. As I sat near the front rows of a packed Woolsey Hall with a couple thousand of my fellow intoxicated, costumed peers, I felt a sense of unity. For one spooky Halloween night, we were all distracted from national politics, personal identity crises, and academic and social anxieties to come together and laugh at ourselves a bit. Even with a tangled plot, the YSO Halloween show more than did its job: it made us come together, share some laughs, and remember that college is supposed to be fun. It gave us an excuse to be late to our morning classes the next day. For that, at least, I am thankful.
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