Darkly comedic ‘Peerless’ at Loft Theatre brings ‘Macbeth’-inspired spin to cutthroat college admission quest



In Jiehae Park’s ‘Macbeth’-inspired dark comedy “Peerless,” twins M and L will do anything to get into their dream college.

The Human Race Theatre Company will present the local premiere of Park’s play April 25-May 12 at the Loft Theatre under the direction of Marya Spring Cordes, professor, associate chair and artistic director of Wright State University’s School of Fine and Performing Arts.

“The story itself is really interesting because it deals with the modern problem of, as a minority, getting into an elite college and how all of the elite colleges have quotas they need to have (such as) representation,” Cordes explained. “There is an old stereotype that only one of a particular person will be allowed in. So this play deals with that reality in a stereotypical way although that is not necessarily the case today. But it harkens back to how difficult it is to get into an elite college no matter who you are. It’s very competitive.”



Social context aside, Cordes is particularly thrilled about the Shakespearean elements driving the action in relatable ways.

“As an adaptation of ‘Macbeth,’ the Shakespearean undertones are delicious (especially) the plotting and scheming,” she said. “The play stars very comedic and gets really dark. It has a super interesting twist of plot. This play is about young people for young people, and hopefully young people will see themselves represented in the work not only from an overall human experience but a young human experience.”

Human Race Artistic Director Emily N. Wells echoes the vibrancy of the Shakespearean component while embracing the familiarity of cinematic teen melodramas.

“In addition to grappling with ideas of representation, affirmative action and stereotypes of particular monolithic ethnic groups, I think it really reflects the pressures of what students feel, and the fact that it’s put in this satirical, ‘Macbeth’-ian twist, is really exciting,” Wells said. “It’s not a faithful adaptation, but it uses a lot of the stakes and circumstances from within ‘Macbeth’ to talk about the aspirations and machinations. This play gives you all the feelings of watching ‘Heathers,’ a cult classic from my generation, ‘Cruel Intentions’ and other dark, comedic and satiric teenage melodramas. I think our audiences are going to have a really good time.”

The cast features current University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music students Dinithi Fernando and Palini Sunkara as the twins, recent Wright State alums Matthew Shanahan (D and D’s Brother) and Sydney Freihofer (Dirty Girl/Preppy Girl), and University of Cincinnati grad Dominique Owen (BF).

“We are thrilled to be showcasing some of the fantastic talent emerging out of our (Southwest) Ohio training programs,” Wells added. “We’re walking the walk of supporting local artists and making sure they know there are opportunities to stay here and work professionally.”

Joining Cordes on the production team are: Ray Zupp, scenic design; John Rensel, lighting design; Maria F. Ortiz, costume design; James Dunlap, sound design; Sarah Gomes, props; Alan Kim, assistant director; and Mark Tynan, production stage manager.

Wells says “Peerless” also provides another example of the Race committing to inclusivity with intentionality.

“My goals have been to really find a way to push us forward in our work toward a better, more equitable and inclusive company in our hiring practices both on and off stage,” she said.

How to go

When: Apr. 25-May 12; 8 p.m. April 25-27, May 2-4, May 9-11; 2 p.m. Apr. 28, May 5, May 11-12; 7 p.m. Apr. 28, 30, May 1, May 8

Where: Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St., Dayton

Cost: $20-$53; Two sections of $20 seats available at any time through the box office, and 10 $10 rush seats available 90 minutes before any performance.

Tickets/more info: 937-228-3630 or humanracetheatre.org

Special nights at The Loft:

Pay What You CAN Wednesday, April 24, 8 p.m. – admission by non-perishable food donation for The Foodbank or a cash donation to benefit DECA’s Senior Sendoff Bundles

Inside Track Thursday, April 25, 8 p.m. – Pre-show Discussion at 7:15 p.m.

Post Show Discussion Sunday, April 28, 2 p.m. – Shakespeare and Adaptation

Industry Night/Sawbuck Sunday, April 28, 7 p.m. – $10 tickets available at 5:30 p.m.

While We’re On The Subject Sunday, May 5, 2 p.m. – Post-Show Discussion with the cast

Parent’s Day Out Saturday, May 11, 2 p.m. – Kids Separate Activities (5-12)

About the Author