Saturday, March 11, 2006

Other Hands

So I've obviously been struggling with this question of finding our contemporary voice in the theatre. Not that it has to be any one way, but I've been waiting for something refreshing and true to our times and circumstances.

Thank you, Laura Wade.

In her new Other Hands, Wade has managed to give us a glimpse into modern life. No big dramatic devices. Just real people, letting us into their lives, almost as if a wall was removed for us to peek inside. These are people we know, the ones we both love and get frustrated with. We see Hayley and Steve's cohabitation and lack of communication, the internet, the office environment--all of these modern forms of isolation that we are familiar with. This play is for today, no doubt. And the physical affliction they suffer--a sort of repetitive activity nerve damage destroying the use of their hands-- serves to manifest the paralysis and deterioration caused by these modern habits. But there are no huge statements to beat you over the head. Her dialogue is hilarious and moving at the same time. Her characters are real; we know these people. And as you get your bearings, and are certain that the next event will be predictable, she disrupts your expectations. First and foremost, this is the story of a relationship misplaced and finally rediscovered.

Even the writers I work with are so often tempted to raise the stakes of their work by inserting illogical and forceful outer circumstances, contrived pressures to push something forward. But that isn't necessary.

And it isn't necessary to cut down your play into some unrecognizable streamlined form all the time. Maybe we need that entire scene to introduce or enjoy a character or an idea, maybe we need time alone with them. I know I have the tendency to encourage economy, and ask if we really need to see this or that. But Laura Wade has made me rethink that. Sometimes viewing a simple truth onstage is enough, and it deserves its own time to just exist in that space. She has layered events and meetings, conversations, exchanges, and disagreements with incredible success.


Blogger Justin Kownacki said...

If the extra scene is there, and it's relevant, then it's not indulgent. But, if it's indulgent and not relevant, then it needs to go. Except for the exceptions.

10:54 PM  

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