Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dearest Eugenia Haggis

Play #35 - Dearest Eugenia Haggis by Ann Marie Healy

This is an odd little play that takes place in the home of Mister Blind Johnny Knoll. At the beginning, he has a young woman as a boarder named Miss Pauline Khenghis. She is an aspiring writer, and she is working on chronicling Mister Knoll's life as her first novel. It's hard to tell how long it's been just the two of them here. But now, as winter settles in, they are joined by Miss Eugenia Haggis. She is a no-nonsense type of woman who blows in and insists that she will be taking care of the house this winter. Pauline seems troubled by her presence almost immediately. Miss Haggis, on the other hand, seems most troubled with the Sanagret boys who ride their noisy toboggans too close to the house for her taste. One night, these unseen (but often heard and mentioned) Sanagret boys deliver a letter for Miss Haggis through the window to Pauline. Pauline, of course, reads the letter before passing it along. It is a mysterious sort of love letter. From this point on, when Miss Haggis responds, Pauline intercepts the letter and responds to it herself. It's hard to tell exactly why this is happening; is she just trying to get rid of Miss Haggis? Is she trying to write herself a great, tragic love story? Eventually, Pauline steals Mr. Knoll's saved cash and slips it in with a letter proposing elopement, so Miss Haggis does end up leaving, much to Mr. Knoll's disappointment. But Pauline and Mr. Knoll are left as they were at the beginning of the play, and yet somehow more alone.

There are strange little hints throughout the play about the characters' pasts - Mr. Knoll's lost love, Miss Haggis's past disappointments, Pauline's troubled childhood - but they never play out. Had this been an Ibsen play, all of those little tidbits would have come to some dramatic head, connecting them all, or erupting in some revelation. But in this world, no one seems to take the time to know each other or themselves terribly well. 

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