The Man delivers laughs in the second

“Arms and the Man” is a “quasi-comedy” — it is light and produces chuckles instead of hearty laughs.     UVM Theatre’s production of “Arms and thse Man” almost makes it a comedy, but falls just short. The casting is great, but the acting is overdone at times and causes a small rift between the actors and their characters. “Arms” tells the story of Raina, the engaged daughter of a military soldier who learns more than she could imagine by befriending an enemy soldier, Captain Bluntschli. With Bluntschli’s friendship, Raina begins to second-guess her heart — and an ironic tale of love and war begins. During the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War, Bluntschli bursts through Raina’s bedroom window and begs her to hide him. Senior Matthew Trollinger plays Bluntschli, an overdramatic character that lacks depth. Yet, Trollinger keeps the audience rooting for Bluntschli from beginning to end with his energizing personality.  A highlight of the play comes at the beginning when Raina and her mother sneak Bluntschli out of the house. They disguise him in an old housecoat and engage in a quiet, hilarious conversation. While the protagonist Raina is superficial, senior Anne Stauffer makes the young woman likeable and funny in her naivety. After the war, Sergius, Raina’s conceited fiancé, returns to his wife-to-be, but also to flirt with his servant girl Louka. Senior Joshua Clarke plays the over-indulgent suitor well in an exaggerated fashion. Like a child, his mood changes quickly and he needs to be babied by the women. Louka, played by junior Allison Brown, is the true diamond in the play. She provides a level of character depth that is unparalleled — her sarcasm and wit provide comic relief as well.The crux of the plot depicts the sarcastic tone of the play excellently. As the story reaches its climax, a simple sword fight resolves the dramatic emotional conflicts between characters.  The play’s artistic elements are fantastic. The forest scene backdrop is mystical and mysterious, only brought out by the lighting, which manipulates the time of day and the mood well. In contrast to the improving acting quality, the set becomes less cohesive as the show moves into the second. While most of the furniture looks antique and works well together in the room, the second half of the play features modern furniture that isn’t cohesive with the rest of the sets. Overall, “Arms and the Man” is witty and satirical, featuring a cast that transports the audience to a romanticized vision of love. But the romanticized vision of love itself is inherently sarcastic as it is resolved by sword fight. As Raina points out in the play, “Arms and the Man” is like watching “grown-up babies.”