Wednesday, February 18, 2015

16 Spells to Charm the Beast

Play #27 - 16 Spells to Charm the Beast by Lisa D'Amour

The setup for this odd, non-linear, imaginative play is pretty wonderful in its melancholy: the 16 scenes are the thoughts that go through Lillian's head as she writes her will. There is a dazed, out of time feeling to a lot of the action, with very little punctuation in some very long passages. As the play goes along, we see conflicts with her husband Ned - a man she seems uncertain how to communicate with anymore. We see conflicts with her often married, divorced, and/or impregnated daughter Norma. We see her beautiful view of the city obscured by new construction. We see her neighbor yammer on endlessly about her daughter. We see the stray tabby cat who keeps Lillian company. But most often, we see The Beast, who Lillian has felt watching her for some indeterminate amount of time. He watches her through a telescope until the new building obscures his view. He makes her a beautiful dress by hand, but finds that his advances are unwelcome. However, in the end, Lillian is finally happy to see him and they walk off together. For me, the beast seemed to be a representation of her mortality - something that is lurking, always there, always watching her, but not welcome until she has made peace. But The Beast isn't just that - he really does seem to care about her. He puts a great deal of effort into watching her, into making the dress for her, into scaling her building to be with her. He is a romantic part of her imagination, but one that scares her in its inability to be contained.

Each scene includes a poem or a prayer or a story or a spell of some kind - I think the key to this play would be finding the reverence and the magic in this world. This is a bit of a tough play to follow, but I think with the right set of visuals and a clear vision, it could be a really fun and moving evening of theatre! And, with some serious specificity, there are probably some usable monologues in here as well.

Update: Best line: "Ma'am, you have the face of an Australian lemur, of course I believe you."

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