Play #77 (Make-up #17): Two Conversations Overheard on Airplanes by Sarah Ruhl
I travel a lot, and when I do, I find it quite pleasurable to listen to other people or even just watch them and to come up with stories about who they might be or where they might be going. I suspect Ruhl does this too. This play is a sort of dreamy snippet of two conversations between four strangers. The Man and The Woman chat about life and death and children. Then the Young Man and Older Man talk about education and careers; the young man always playing catch-up, trying to find his footing with this much more accomplished man. In the end, there is a sound...and they all die, go to a new planet where they will spend eternity together. "They gaze. They shake hands. They vote. The end."
I criticized one of my recent reads for its lack of action. Now, Ruhl's lack of Aristotelian or Freytagian (to coin a word) is much more exciting. There is an amazing tone in the writing that fits the placelessness of air travel. And the end - the endlessness of their situations, it makes everything these strangers shared both irrelevant and crucial!