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Savage in Limbo

by John Patrick Shanley

A few of my friends are working on a scene from this in our Meisner Alum scene-work class and I remember vaguely seeing a production of it in college but I wanted to refresh my memory. It actually left me somewhat depressed. I mean the title tells you everything - it's about a girl Denise Savage and a few other locals who spend the night in a bar talking about the changes they want to make to their lives. Everyone makes a change by the end except for Savage. She remains alone and thus in limbo. She says towards the beginning:
I'm scared of everything. I see what could go wrong with everything so I don't do nothin. I got this one thing in me that I hate. I'm a coward.
She has Hamlet's problem - over-thinking that prolongs inaction. She seems to make connections with a few other girls in the bar and we think that maybe they will make a positive change until the town hunk comes into the bar and sets the girls into a cat fight for his affection. He seems to be a tortured soul as well, despite his good looks and he offers the room some good advice:
You gotta be brave for yourself cause nobody else can be brave for you and nobody else cares.
Every man for himself, eh? It's appropriate that this play takes place in a bar, since that's where depressed people go to spout their troubles. I think Shanley has written some gritty characters that occasionally say beautiful, universal truths.
You can't change. You can't do it. It's like puttin your hands on your own waist an tryin to pick yourself off the ground.
 Don't nobody listen to nobody except listenin for the trigger that sets them off on their thing.
You say yes to one thing, you say no to a lotta the others causa the yes. 
Savage's final words are "I. AM. ALONE." And yet, I felt no sympathy for her. She's alone because it's safer, and while she made some effort to change that during the course of the play, I got the feeling that the play ends because she's given up trying to change. If she tried again or had a breakthrough then it would continue.. or there'd be a title change. Savage was in Limbo. Savage post-Limbo. Savage in a bar that is no longer Limbo. You get the point.

This leaves me with the thought of - the challenge of playing a character that seems to end where she begins. Now, of course, she's been on a journey. Her journey just ends full circle in a similar circumstance from the top of the show. She's an A-B-A character as opposed to an A-B-C.

Monday Play-a-day: Bus Stop by William Inge

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