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18.8.10

The Country Club

by Douglas Carter Beane

I grew up in Pennsylvania and since college, I've been back once a year at Christmas (sometimes only for a day).. It's not that I didn't like PA, it was a great place a grow up, it's just that I've moved on and my life isn't there anymore. I understand how Soos, the main character, feels about returning "home." It's a strange feeling to go back after being gone for so long and fitting in with those friends who have missed whole chapters of your life. Soos goes back to PA after a failed relationship to take a break, but ends up staying much longer than she intended. Her friends give her a hard time about it and tease her that she's never going to leave. She says:
I've been here just long enough that the outside world seems frightening again.
She falls back into comfortable patterns, including a rekindled relationship with Zip, a guy she dated in high school. He eventually leaves her to have an affair with his best friend's new wife, Chloe. Even that turns sour, as Chloe claims "I don't want to go to hell." Zip responds:
There is no hell. Only people in love. That's the only hell.
The world of the play is a very upper-crust country club and includes the prejudices and attitudes that go along with that territory. Pooker puts it in the best terms:
Chloe is sleeping with Zip, Barb is in love with Mitch Williams, Mitch Williams is gay, P.J. keeps attempting suicide over Prescott, I have a boyfriend that isn't cute whom I love, Sketchy is bankrupt, Icky has cancer, Froggy is filled with terror, Hutch is a drunk, Bri has an ulcer, Ginny has a mixed marriage that's on the rocks, Bags is frequenting prostitutes, and you're never leaving Wyomissing, no matter how much you say you are. We all have our little stories. And no one brings them up. that's what's known as community spirit. 
The characters are eccentric and the story is based on a series of parties, during which lives are toyed with, demolished, and restored. I feel like I know these people. The play reminds me of my favorite quote from The Great Gatsby:
"I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy."
All of these characters know each other and each other's business so well that there truly is no privacy. That's part of the reason I was happy to come to New York - much more privacy amongst all the flurry of activity.

Saturday Play-a-day: Tape by Stephen Belber

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