‘The Only Coffee Shop In The City’ Sparks Honest Conversation About Grief, Vulnerability
The show opens in a New York City coffee shop while two friends — Yael and Jessa — are gossiping about their mutual friend, Carrie, while scrolling through social media. The stage is split between the coffee shop and Carrie’s current residence in London, where she flees after a breakup with her now ex-boyfriend Cooper.
Refreshingly honest conversations involving mental health, independence, relationships, and grieving in a society dominated by social media dominate Wonderlust Theatre Company’s presentation of “The Only Coffee Shop in the City,” an original new play by Ellis Stump.
Illusions of Cooper constantly invade Carrie’s reality and hinder her grieving process through flashbacks and imagined conversations. She discovers herself as the audience watches her go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Stump shows a unique ability to create realistic characters that portray the awkwardness experienced in everyday life. Even the side characters show depth and affect the plot in surprising ways.
Stump is a senior with double majors in English and media studies. This is her second full length show and she has performed in various No Refund Theatre productions. Inspiration hit while she was dealing with her own feelings of heartbreak and rejection.
“It took my own mental health strength to look back on this time when I was writing this in the summer and be honest about how bad it was,” Stump said. “The portrayal of depression or sadness of any kind is always ‘cute’ and I wanted it to be disgusting.”
Because Stump experienced the pain that Carrie struggles with, her grief is not romanticized. Scenes evoke feelings of vulnerability because of their portrayal of raw human emotions.
“My goal is that everyone will be able to relate to at least one character on stage,” Stump said.
She worked incredibly hard to bring this show to life and the cast enhances the message she’s trying to share through their delivery of witty comments and heartbreaking monologues.
“To see [the cast] breathe life into these characters and to take them in directions and give them traits that exist in between the lines is really cool” Stump said.
You can see “The Only Coffee Shop in the City” at 8 p.m. Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1 and 2 p.m. Sunday, December 2 in Theatre Building Room 6. Admission and coffee are free.
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Garcia is the first known Penn State student to die after contracting the virus.
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