Geeks Read Books: “Mary Page Marlowe” & “Night Is A Room”

Two new plays by TCG Mary Page Marlowe and Night is a Room
Reviews by Kitty Drexel

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Begin reviews: 

Mary Page Marlowe
By Tracy Letts
Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
New York, NY 2016
$14.95

Summary from the TCG website: “In a series of elegant, nonchronological scenes spanning the years from 1946 to 2015, the play hopscotches through Mary Page Marlowe’s quiet existence as an accountant from Ohio—complicating notions of what it means to lead a ‘simple life’.”

Life isn’t simple. It is complicated. It’s messy. The reader/actor quickly learns that Mary Page Marlowe’s life has some uncommon ups and downs. She copes through misadventures such as a broken home, alcoholism, death, women’s choice, mental illness, and sexism. She does not manage them gracefully.

Letts paints MPM as a sympathetic, imperfect woman who takes responsibility for her irresponsible choices. He define her through a series of life-molding scenes presented out of time. They are the little and large moments that pitch her as neither good or bad; she’s a woman making difficult choices. Her humanity stems from beyond our ability to relate to her experiences. She’s not just a device used to define others; she’s a multi-dimensional person.  

The dialogue is written with plain language. It may serve the reader/actor best to read the script twice to catch all the nuances. The play includes two sung moments. MPM and her father Ed sing briefly.  Actors do not need to be accomplished in order to play either role. In fact, it may best serve the production if either actor can play tone-deaf.  

This edition includes basic stage directions to flesh out the Lett’s intent. It is up to the director and cast to fully flesh out staging. Edition also includes production history, and extremely short playwright bio for such an accomplished artist.

Mary Page Marlowe passes the Bechdel Test, and the Mako Mori test.

Tracy Letts is a playwright, actor, and resident company member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for August: Osage County.

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Night is a Room
Naomi Wallace
Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
New York, NY 2016
$14.95

“Complaint” from Selected Poems
They call me and I go.
It is a frozen road
past midnight, a dust
of snow caught
in the rigid wheeltracks.
The door opens.
I smile, enter and
shake off the cold.
Here is a great woman
on her side in the bed.
She is sick,
perhaps vomiting,
perhaps laboring
to give birth to
a tenth child. Joy! Joy!
Night is a room
darkened for lovers,
through the jalousies the sun
has sent one golden needle!
I pick the hair from her eyes
and watch her misery
with compassion.
William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963

Summary from the TCG website: “…Naomi Wallace’s new play Night is a Room tackles the timeless topic of love and relationships. This story of a seemingly ideal married couple is torn apart when the husband’s previously unknown birth mother makes a surprise visit for his fortieth birthday. Night is a Room examines the intimate challenge love can create, romantic or otherwise.” The William Carlos Williams poem influences the play. 

Night is a Room is about incest. It’s well written. The characters are interesting, complex but the play is still about incest. Playwright Wallace poses interesting questions regarding the human condition and intimacy… Within the context of incest. The play requires adult actors to depict graphic non-incestuous sexual relations. The acts that define incest are referenced. Please read accordingly to taste and preference.

This play passes the Bechdel Test.

Naomi Wallace is a playwright and screenwriter whose plays include One Flea Spare, The Fever Chart, And I and Silence, and The Liquid Plain, among other works. Her numerous awards include the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award. She divides her time between England and the U.S.

Queen’s Note:
We elected a thin skinned bigot to the office of the President dead set on turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. His plan to slash the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities is HERE. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so. Fight him. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

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