Ciara Jackson, left, and Eric Rozell rehearse a scene from "The Vertical Hour" as director Joel Grothe looks on.

Ciara Jackson, left, and Eric Rozell rehearse a scene from “The Vertical Hour” as director Joel Grothe looks on.

When we first see Nadia Blye, a former war correspondent turned Yale political science professor, she is reviewing a student’s terrible essay. During the conversation, he blurts out that he is obsessed with her, citing Sigmund Freud’s argument that the things that one vocalizes and the truths that lie under the surface are not the same.

Therein lies the theme of “The Vertical Hour,” where the difference in what is said in a relationship often is at odds with the hidden truth.

The Lamar University department of theatre and dance presents David Hare’s play, today through Sunday, in the Studio Theatre.

“The Vertical Hour” is a thought-provoking play that intermingles politics with personal feelings.

Ciara Jackson leads the ensemble with a striking performance as Nadia, a supporter of the 2003 Iraqi invasion. Her performance exudes confidence as Nadia argues her position on the war.

Guest actor Richard Warner plays British physician Oliver Lucas, who is the father of Phillip, Nadia’s boyfriend. Oliver is firmly against the invasion. A seasoned professional, Warner provides a solid foundation for the play.

As the action progresses, Oliver and Nadia challenge each other’s views. As they argue, with an underlying sexual tension, they shed light how they really feel about themselves.

Where Nadia is brash and thoroughly American, Warner’s Oliver is calm and measured as he refuses to yield his position. The interplay the two is enjoyable and the audience is carried along with the developing relationship.

Eric Rozell plays Phillip, who suspects his womanizing father of trying to seduce his girlfriend, a suspicion that only increases as the play progresses. His insecurities lead to harsh behavior toward Nadia, driving a wedge between them. Rozell brings the character’s vulnerability to life and his performance is more mature than one would expect from a freshman.

The first half of the play deals heavily with politics, and for anyone not familiar with the events of the early George W. Bush administration, it can be hard to follow. But as soon as the second half begins, the turbulent emotions of the characters draw the viewer in.

Director Joel Grothe keeps the pace moving and lets his actors claim the show as their own.

The set is simple but is the perfect as it serves to focus the attention on the words and actions of the characters rather than distracting us with objects.

The play previewed Wednesday with a special showing that featured a meal before and a Q&A following the performance.

“The Vertical Hour” made me feel as though I had much to learn and, more importantly, made me want to learn more. This is surely a sign of a production well done.

Show times are 7:30 p.m., Feb. 8-10, and 2 p.m., Feb.11.

Tickets are $7 for LU/LIT students with a valid ID, $10 for LU/LIT faculty and staff, senior citizens and non-LU students, $15 for General admission.

Tickets may be purchased by credit card by calling 880-8037, or in person at the box office one hour before each performance.

Sierra Kondos, UP staff writer

Ciara Jackson, left, Eric Rozell and Richard Warner rehearse a scene from "The Vertical Hour" in the Studio Theatre, Tuesday.

Ciara Jackson, left, Eric Rozell and Richard Warner rehearse a scene from “The Vertical Hour” in the Studio Theatre, Tuesday.

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