Monday, February 16, 2015

God's Ear

Play #25 - God's Ear by Jenny Schwartz

This is one of those plays that I have started to read numerous times, but have had a hard time getting through. The language is beautiful, but it's a complex read. Sometimes it feels a bit like reading an extended Meisner exercise - with all the repetition and revision that occurs. Very little happens, it's more the dramatization of a state of being than of a plot per se. It's really gorgeous and, as a director, terrifying. What do I do? How do I find my way into this dance? It sort of feels like a really intense game of Double Dutch... and I'm trying to jump in, but I can't quite get the rhythm. This is a play I feel like I need to read about twelve more times... at least. But to give a basic idea of the play: Mel and Ted had two children: Sam and Lanie. Unfortunately, Sam drowned. The play is their reaction to this tragedy. Sam goes perpetually on the road and has an affair, while Mel stays at home with Lanie, dealing with the questions of childhood - questions she probably answered for Lanie's older brother, and that now seem burdensome. The Tooth Fairy and eventually GI Joe join Mel as she deals with the little girl who is going to live the full life that Sam never will. Actually, as I type this, it occurs to me that I might describe this play as sort of a lyrical, absurdist version of Rabbit Hole. The repeated bits of conversation cycle through over and over - sort of like a stuck record. And really, these people are stuck. They don't know how to move forward from the loss of a child, so they fall into a lonely and destructive pattern from which they have no idea how to escape. But in the last few moments... there is hope. Ted finally does come home, and there is the suggestion that the cycle is not going to be forever. It's just a necessary part of their lives. Suffering and grief are personal and important emotions that everyone will experience, but that needn't overcome the living forever.

The play includes a number of songs, for which the melodies are in the back of the script. I hoped that playing through them would give me a clearer picture of the world of the play, and I supposed they did in a way. Their structures are sort of strange and disjointed... not the catchy tune that's going to get stuck in your head. They feel just a little off-kilter. Which makes a lot of sense for a play about people whose rhythms are so completely thrown off by their shared loss. I would be so scared to direct this play, which probably means that I should direct this play. I am so taken with the poetry of the language, it would be pretty exciting to find the visual poetry tucked inside of it.

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