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Women of Manhattan

by John Patrick Shanley

Man, Shanley just writes some beautiful, beautiful text. It's almost poetic. It's a tribute to him that it also never feels out of place with the characters he's created. This play is about women, love, sex, marriage, relationships, it's "Sex & the City" before "Sex & the City" existed. .. with less coining of phrases and more honest straight-talk. These women are open with each other and have enough faith in their friendship that they feel they can tell each other hard truths without losing each other. They express their wants,
I want your sympathy for an ache in me that knows no name.
their fears,
Whatever you're doing that's good, inside it is the little appetite mouse with his big big teeth hollowing it out. Making whatever dreams you've managed to happen seems silly and empty and nothing. That's the big problem, I think. That appetite that's under just everything. Ruining it. 
their suggestions for improvement,
To be humiliated is like being detoxed. Humiliation is the road you've got to travel to become humble. If it's your pride that's crippling you, humiliation is how you get rid of pride.  
and they're not afraid to add a little humor too,
You need the romance. It's like a local anesthetic the heart supplies during the painful beginnings of knowing a man. The trick it to let it wear off in its natural time, and go on and let that open tender place be touched. Don't shrink back every time you feel a little pain. If you do, you'll end up with nothing. 
The line that struck me the most was actually spoken between Judy and Duke on their blind date. She says to him:
And maybe if we talked long enough, we could stop being afraid and we could talk about just anything at all. Would that be love then? 
It made me think about the act of courtship. Everyone, to varying degrees, puts on an "act" when dating.. at least in the initial stages. We want the other person to see our best qualities and ignore our flaws. The process of falling in love is the slow uncovering of these imperfections, allowing for a deeper vulnerable connection. People always say "be yourself" when you're first getting to know someone.. but what I've come to realize is that I'm slightly different versions of my "self" depending on who I'm with - there's family Lauren and professional Lauren and sarcastic Lauren and so on and so on.. so what's the right mix of "self" for a first date? It's like a scene - you work off of the energy you're given by the other person -- that shared energy will define who you are "together" and will determine if you have romantic chemistry or brotherly love. It's not simple. But then, if it were, it wouldn't be very much fun, would it? :)

Sunday Play-a-day: The Shape of Things by Neil Labute

**Also, I'd love to take suggestions and/or recommendations! If there's a play you want me to read, let me know! Leave a comment, or email me at:

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