Monday, March 02, 2015

theatre notes.

Last week A. and I went to see SEVEN WAYS TO GET THERE at ACT, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I wasn't sure exactly what it was going to be about - a bunch of men-babies talking about they can't get laid, maybe. And there was a little of that, sure, but there was so much more than that, and I can't stop going over all the little moments of the play in my mind. It was very, very, funny and very, very honest, and I cried at the end. I loved it, and it surprised me how much I loved it. Co-written by Bryan Willis and Dwayne Clark, SEVEN WAYS TO GET THERE is based on Dwayne's real-life experiences in a men's therapy group in Seattle during the late 1990s. The soundtrack is all 90s alt-rock and it takes me back to my high school years, but that isn't why it all felt so real to me.

All of us have problems, the play tells us, no matter how different our lives seem on the surface. All of us have fears and doubts that paralyze us, and some of us stand at the edge of a darkness that can't be described or understood, and some of us fall over that edge into the abyss. There's never any warning, only signs so insignificant that one only thinks about them afterwards, picking apart every last word, every last minute that you saw someone you thought you knew and understood. But you never can. There is a line from Holly Arsenault's play THE CUT - a work in progress, so I don't know how it will end - that keeps echoing in my head. A dying woman once tried to commit suicide as a teenager. "I should have died thirty years ago," she tells her lover. Those thirty years of survival felt like a gift.

Five years ago this month the writer Elspeth Thompson committed suicide near her home on the Sussex coast. She had been depressed for weeks, and had begun taking antidepressants that, instead of halting her descent into darkness, sent her spinning further into space, into the cold lake waters, pockets weighed down with stones like Virginia Woolf, who had done the same thing sixty-nine years earlier. I think of them both when I hear Mike Daisey talk about depression, about how close he has come to that same end, and yet somehow still walks back from the edge. But the people who struggle every day never really know. They never know if they can keep putting one foot in front of the other until one day turns into one year turns into ten, twenty, thirty, forty, and that yawning abyss recedes into a faint shadow in the distance. And those of us who watch them and ache for them, we never know, either. We can only wait, and hope.

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