I have not blogged in quite a while but I was moved to do so after seeing this wonderful production. First off, I encourage you to catch it, there are only four performances left.
Warning. Spoilers follow.
My lack of knowledge of the breadth and depth of the statements to be made by playwrights is maybe what makes me enjoy the theatre experience so much. I saw in the main character, Heda, a woman driven insane by the inane nature of life. Perhaps, she was not so much insane as insanely bored. What is the point of being alive? This is a question that maybe only my generation even has the time to contemplate. Yes, philosophers of past days posed this very question to themselves, but could they truly contemplate it? When their existence was at stake? Only those truly unworried about where their next meal will come from can be unhappy with merely being alive. God gives a point to the masses, comfortable in the knowledge that someone cares, and has already thought about IT so they needn’t worry themselves with IT. Only now, without the worry of day to day subsistence and the instant gratification of Madison avenue, can we say, “What is the point?” Many, including myself, would be inclined to agree with Heda’s stated conclusion (boredom) or her implied conclusion of the point (beauty and control and entertainment of oneself).
When you’re station affords you time for contemplation, only then can you be depressed and truly bored. Heda asks Judge Brack, “But what am I to do?” to which comes the Judge’s the obvious reply, “What all ladies of great station do. Entertain.” This is the last answer that any of us really want, we want more substance. But if that is really all there to do, it is surprising that Heda’s eventual final conclusion of the point of being alive is not shared by more people. Suicide is so easy; but so final. Is it courageous? I don’t think that Heda’s death was courageous; she was merely relieving herself, permanently, of the prospect of being so bored. The idea of being kept ‘a slave’ by the Judge was not scary to her, but rather too much more of the same. And she wanted to do what her lover could not. To die a beautiful death.
I don’t know exactly why, but I thought of the movie Party Monster while writing this. I think Heda might have fit in that circle and been able to die beautifully with them.