Synopsis: In Many Moons, Juniper is looking for love, Robert is trying to avoid it, Ollie doesn't know what it is, and Meg has resigned herself to never having it. As these four people move through a July day in London, they orbit each other, unaware that they are hurtling towards one moment that could devastate them all.
Alice Birch's full length debut work was a finalist in the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
In spite of running 100 minutes with no intermission, this play just flew by to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it in spite of an ending, [Minor spoiler alert—skip to the next paragraph if you don't want to see it!] the likes of whose ambiguity has not been seen since Out in the Dark, which I saw at the 2013 NC Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in August.
My observations of the play:
- I tried to rank the characters in the order of "likability" to me, and came up with two different rankings—one for the characters as I met them at the beginning of the play, and a quite different one as I left them at the end.
- This is the first play I've seen that throughly integrated social media, with two of the characters referring to being on, and checking, Facebook on several occasions. It reminded me of the first time I saw a cell phone in a movie, and the first time I saw and heard URLs referred to in TV and radio ads.
- I really liked how each of these characters unfolded their narratives separately, but were often standing right beside each other and/or talking about each other, and only on the briefest of occasion talking to each other.
- I thought the actor, J Evarts, playing Meg did a very good job of being 8 months (or so, let's just say very) pregnant, in terms of the way she got up out of her seat, moved around, and sat back down.
- I found all four of the actors being consistently true to their characters—each a joy and an annoyance at various points in the play as their "good" and "bad" qualities surfaced respectively.
- The more the characters talked—revealing more and more about themselves—the more my feelings changed for them, often in a disturbing way that I moved to reluctantly.
- There was some "heavy shit" explored in this play.
Themes that I remember being explored in the play:
- The "inherent" good that is in (or not in) every person
- What love is
- Caring for the infirmed and the demented
- Everyone is pretty much always dealing (or not dealing) with something going on in their lives
- Child abuse
- Society's beliefs and perceptions about child abusers, and the pressure to not empathize or humanize them
- Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbow people
- Socially awkward people
- People in loveless marriages
- The interconnectedness of our lives
Okay, that's enough. One of my measures of success for plays is whether or not I'll still be thinking about them days after I've seen them. This one definitely meets that criteria. Good stuff.
Treat yourself to this play. It's being staged through Saturday, November 16, 2013 at Common Ground Theater in Durham. For box office and ticket information, visit the Common Wealth website.