Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Am I Blue?

I read plays 1 & 2 for 2022 as part of my participation in the Hedgepig Ensemble's Expand the Canon project, so I can't post anything about them. So that leads me to...

Play #3

Am I Blue? - Beth Henley 

A student of mine is interested in directing this one-act as part of her senior seminar, so I needed to give it a read. It's classically Beth Henley - dark and sweet and strange. John Polk is drinking himself drunk enough to indulge in the birthday gift he received from his frat brothers - a night with a sex worker - when Ashbe rushes over to his table, having just stolen ash trays from a bar down the street. Both of them are too young to be in this bar, so they both get kicked out and end up back at Ashbe's apartment where they talk about jealousy and anger and coming of age and sex and affection. And eventually, they simply dance the night away. 

It's a dated piece, set in 1968, but there is also a timelessness to the youth of the two characters. Henley is always so good at constructing melancholy and the glimmer of hope that lies just beyond the edges. And those edges, in this play at least, are not as far away as the characters might hope. There are a few little persnickety things from the time period that contemporary audiences might balk at - mentions of "the Orient" and referring to the sex workers as "whores." But the core of the piece is smart and sweet and oh so human. There's a lot of charm in these few pages.