Where's the book?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Stopping to play

Number 6 is something different: two plays, which I'm counting as one since they don't take as long to read as even the shortest book.

Saoirse Ronan and Ben Whishaw in The Crucible
Two wonderful plays, I should say: The Crucible by Arthur Miller and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I'd read Crucible before, and seen it on stage a couple of times, but in preparation for seeing it again on Broadway (a powerful new production with Ben be-still-my-heart Whishaw, Sophie Okenado, Saoirse Ronan (again!), and Ciaran Hinds), I decided to read it again.

Every time I read it, I am awed by it, and all its many insights into human nature and life. I know it was written as Miller's response to McCarthyism, but it's just as relevant to the crazy presidential race going on right now. And it's eternally relevant in its understanding of people, their desires, their relationships, and their flaws.

Laura and her Gentleman Caller
I'd never read or seen The Glass Menagerie, but I knew that it was Williams's reflections on his own family: his sensitive and withdrawn sister, absent father, and determined, aspirational, and near-delusional mother. I was surprised at how modern the many uses of visuals felt--Williams was experimenting with form, looking for visual representations of inner thoughts psychological states. And I was also surprised at how unexpected the turns of the simple story are. I did not expect to find myself gasping and then weeping over a play I've heard so much about over so many decades. Great art surprises! Great art survives!

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