My Letter to the Boston Globe:
Ms. Kennedy's review (October 28, 2005) of Stephen Belber's "Carol Mulroney," in its world premier by the Huntington Theatre Company, described the play as having a "hollow core where its heart ought to be." Having seen the play myself before I read her review, I was shocked to read her take on it. It would be a pity if you stayed away from this production based on this one review.
I found the play's raw, yet poetic language effective. We watch as Carol, the main character, slowly moves toward the edge of the roof where she seeks solace from a noisy interior life. It is clear that she will end her life; the other characters must circle around this sad truth and try to reconcile their lives to it. I also recently saw Tom Stoppard's play, "The Real Thing," (also by the Huntington Theatre Company) and it helps to draw a comparison between the two in terms of language use.
When I left the Stoppard play, my cerebral g spot was in a tizzy from all the clever language and multi-layered meanings. I felt smart because I get some of his allusions and excited to better educate myself to understand more of his allusions next time. Belber's language, on the other hand, made me feel deeply alive. Lines that border on being fantastical evoked for me true emotion, namely the sadness of missed opportunity and denial. For example, the self-justifying histrionics of the self-deluded father and especially the soliloquy by the grieving best friend, which entails her sacrificing her deepest sexual self in search for salvation (her affair with Carol's husband was partly to blame for her death). I left the Belber play and walked out into the cool evening air knowing that I am human. And, unlike Carol Mulroney, still alive.
True, my brain didn't sizzle the same as when I am post-Stoppard, but my heart did. After a Stoppard play, you have little to discuss. You feel that you need to see the text, underline the clever bits and discuss it in a Socratic Seminar to uncover its meanings. After Belber, my boyfriend and I sat in a nearby cafe and happily hashed out the characters and the ways they interacted and how it related to our own lives.
Yes, I thought there were weak moments in the play, but it was hardly the failure presented in the Globe's review. This is a play that my generation can really get. We make jokes at the "wrong time." We have grown up with "The Vagina Monologues" and we respond to the raw language it reclaimed. Belber is a fresh new voice who was trying to write about "someone with a sort of inexplicable sadness." What is sad about the play is that one review in the Globe might prevent Belber from an audience who can appreciate his work.
What was published in the Sunday Arts & Entertainment Section,
November 6, 2005:
Louise Kennedy's review of Stephen Belber's "Carol Mulroney," described it as having a "hollow core where its heart ought to be." ("Up on the Roof," Weekend, Oct. 28). I found the play's raw, yet poetic language effective. I thought there were weak moments in the play, but it was hardly the failure presented in the review. This is a play that my generation can really get. Belber is a fresh new voice who was trying to write about "someone with a sort of inexplicable sadness." What is sad is that one review might prevent Belber from [getting] an audience who can appreciate his work.