Home > Playwriting > Telling Lives

Telling Lives

February 29th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Telling Lives at Dobama

Went and saw Telling Lives at Dobama a few weeks back; Super Bowl Sunday, to be precise. Written by Faye Sholiton several years back and then dusted off, revised, updated, re-written, pick you choice phrase, and presented in the Playwrights’ Gym. Telling Lives is a strong piece of writing and a fine piece of theater.

Telling Lives adeptly and gracefully tells the story of three generations of women in the Garver/Klein family. Appropriately, what is most telling about the relationship between each woman is what isn’t said at all. It is clear from the start that years of tension and unsaid things have left each woman defensive, guarded, and isolated, and we, as an audience, will bear witness to either the terrible destruction of these women or the reversal of their fortunes.

The matriarch of the family is Ruth Garver (Rhonda Rosen), an older woman who is teetering on the edge of both decline and intervention. Living alone, she is forgetful and moving ever closer to the point at which she cannot take care of herself. It is, presumably at the start, this aspect of her life that leads her to write an autobiography, which becomes a lightning rod. Ruth’s daughter, Geri Klein (Maryann Elder) is an editor at a newspaper and the ex-wife of a now highly successful fiction writer. These two facts alone allow for the edge of cynicism we see in her, but she has also been scarred and hardened by other relationships in her life: notably with her daughter, her mother, her father, and her dead sister. Geri’s daughter, Rachel, (Emily Pucell) is a rebellious thirty-something playwright who has taking to airing the family misfortunes through her stage plays. Finally, we learn that it is Rachel, who’s desire to air more dirty laundry on stage, prodded the matriarch, Ruth, to write her autobiography. The main intent, it seems, is to discover what happened to her dead aunt and the reason for it. Again, Sholiton adeptly brings the play to a dramatic head by having the autobiography be more problematic for what has been left out, rather than what has been put in it. Coupled with this, is the natural instinct that Geri has, being an editor, to correct, cut, revise, and goad her mother into revisions–which Ruth does not want to make.

Ultimately, the mystery that surrounds the autobiography and the secret related to the dead aunt/sister/daughter is a MacGuffin to expose and examine what is most important in this play: the way in which family members relate to one another: how they hurt each other, recover, and how they love each other.

Sholiton has written a wonderful play with strong characters who are witty, vibrant, and delightful to watch.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

%d bloggers like this: