I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Cocktail Party

Plays have never held much appeal for me--especially in written format. I've seen a couple of plays performed in community playhouses and I enjoyed them, but not enough to make it a regular habit. But I'm trying to branch out a little when it comes to the arts. Classic literature has never held a great appeal to me either, but I joined a literature group recently as part of my effort to grow in this area.

For our last meeting, we discussed The Cocktail Party, a play written in 1950 by T.S. Eliot. I found a copy at a public library and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It's purported to be a "modern verse play about the search for meaning, in which a psychiatrist is the catalyst for the action." I was much more interested in listening to Edward (the host of the cocktail party) and his wife, Livonia, speak about who they were and who they weren't.

Edward and Livonia have been married for five years. They really couldn't say why the got married. They were attracted to each other, "well suited" for each other, and they eventually seemed to mistake such things for love. As the play opens, their marriage is in trouble. Edward has been shutting Livonia out in an apparent attempt to not go crazy and his indifference drove her to leave him temporarily.

By the end of the first act, they have it out--pointing to each others annoying habits. But that's just surface stuff. The real problems are much deeper. We eventually find out that Livonia feels like she is unlovable and Edward feels incapable of loving somebody.

Here's how Edward describes it:

"The one thing of which I am relatively certain
Is, that only since this morning
I have met myself as a middle-aged man
Beginning to know what it is to feel old.
That is the worst moment, when you feel that you have lost.
The desire for all that was most desirable,
And before you are contented with what you can desire;
Before you know what is left to be desired;
And you go on wishing that you could desire
What desire has left behind."

Lavinia eventually makes this statement: "It seems to me that what we have in common [her feeling unlovable and him feeling like he cannot love anybody] might be just enough to make us loathe one another."

But at the same time, it also is enough to make them realize that they can meet each other's need. And in spite of everything, they do.

I don't know that I'll be gobbling up more plays to read at my leisure any time soon, but I won't be so quick to discount them either.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...