27 February 2012


If the interval at this MTC production had occurred earlier in the play, I would not have returned (which would have been a first-ever for me).  The first few scenes portray a seemingly dysfunctional family, complete with lots of politically incorrect prejudices and much obscene and offensive language (the latter being, to my mind, greatly overdone).  After this, the play greatly improved, perhaps reaching a particular high-point just before the interval.  No doubt the playwright intends to shock us, and my reaction is probably exactly as the playwright intended.

The play explores the way in which people with disabilities (in this case, deafness inparticular, but schizophrenia comes in as well) relate to society, that is, full integration vs a degree of separateness.   However, the play is full of other themes as well.  For example,  a family may appear dysfunctional, but when the really hard challenges arise, how does it cope?    The ability to communicate an array of emotions and messages using sign language is demonstrated (including by the use of surtitles), even though many of us might regard some of these concepts as only capable of being expressed verbally  (in short, they are expressed differently, but certainly adequately).    The feelings that are involved when a person is aware that they are becoming subject to a disability are exposed (not all that different to the aging process, I guess!)

On the whole, there is much in this play.  However, I remain of the view that the message in the first few scenes could have been communicated just as effectively - in fact, even more effectively - if less confrontational language was used.    In fact, if I recall correctly, there is a line in the play to the effect that a good author doesn't use underlining, as he ought to be able to communicate emphasis without resorting to external aids.  I think the same is probably true in this context.

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