Byron and I don’t see eye to eye on this one; I can hardly believe we saw the same play! I disagree with his review in almost every respect.
This play is clearly intended to be literary, evocative, and non-linear rather than narrative or “theatrical.” Perhaps searching for insight into his own family distracted him from what was happening in front of him. (Tolstoy reminds us that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way). In this family, the female character over-emotes sometimes, perhaps as a function of personality, perhaps to balance out the inability or unwillingness of her men to open up. The contrast is effective and revealing. She is a nurse. She always wants pain to go away, but she can’t get at the pain in her family to fix it. Perhaps that is why her garden is her refuge, and maybe even a source renewal and optimism; she can try new things and revel in beautiful results. She can feel close to happier times and places in her life. Artificial flowers on the set wouldn’t have added a thing.
The story is served by the many, small, slice-of-life scenes. The frequent changing of the sets suggested to me that life goes on, work must get done, and time passes even if the connections are not established, even if pain is not articulated or resolved. The reviewer seems to think that the playwright should have provided more information or insight. Why? What needed to be shown was more than adequately shown; it didn’t need to be told. Wishing for momentum misses the point.
What Mr. Woods describes as lack of pacing and “an epidemic of significant pauses” are actually the very things create that the fugue-like contrapuntal rhythm of this show. They are essential! Speeding all of this up to 70 minutes would only create confusion. This play, as presented, is intricate. Yes, we have to work a little to track all the melodies, but this soldier’s fugue plays out in a highly satisfying way.
I thought all of the actors and the director did a great job. If forced to make a tiny complaint it would be about some of the music, but that’s hardly a criticism. I’d recommend this show highly. It is thought provoking and entirely well done.
Indy Week • 302 E. Pettigrew St., Suite 300, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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