Thursday, October 2, 2008

Joanna Murray-Smith's 'Ninety'

I saw the MTC production of Joanna Murray-Smith's play Ninety last night. I don't know if it's touring to other states, but if it is I highly recommend you hire a babysitter.

The play has left quite an impression on me. I can't find a way to respond to it with any objective analysis, as my reaction to Joanna's work is always to be confronted with all it brings up in me about my own life. It is a work that raises so many questions about the masks and layers we operate with, the way we choose to live, the people we hide in, those we are truly real with, the layers we do or don't expose, how ugly we allow ourselves to be, what binds us and what sets us free.

Plot-wise, the title of the play refers to the number of minutes William grants to ex-wife Isobel to convince him they should still be together. At the outset, you really can't imagine how these two people are going to find their way back to each other. For two characters who are in many ways quite unlikeable to ultimately move us so much requires quite an arc--something Joanna manages with her usual deftness. I have rarely been in audience so riveted--and with so many men weeping!

This season has sold out I believe (not surprisingly), but look out for future productions, or the paperback edition I think will be available shortly.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I agree with what you have said about the play and how it has the ability to confront you with reflections of your own life. It is interesting to observe characters and written work such as this, and to then wonder if these emotional complexities that we feel are perhaps more common then we expected. But that, as you said, people use different masks, or shields, or make different choices to mould the way in which they are percieved by the world. Infinite layers evolve inside us as we grow. That we as people, perhaps, have a back and forth battle with the world and how we not only shape ourselves in the world, but with how the world shapes us. It is interesting when life nudges the different tender spots inside ones internal self that I never knew I had. When naievety slowly develops into more of an awareness of reality. And recognizing something so close to home on stage makes me wonder, am I trapped in a common cycle of life, that beneath the surface is always there, but merely reflected differently through the indivdual choices and lives of others?