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9.8.10

Jumpers

by Tom Stoppard

This play is smarter than I am.

I am not ashamed to admit it. Stoppard - you are a master, and I would need to do a lot of research to get all the jokes in this play. That being said, on a first read, I did very much enjoy it.

It is set in a bizarre sense of reality where the line between Church and State is a bit blurred. Also, most public officials seem to be acrobats as well. You will have to read it to begin to understand (when the back jacket is confusing to you, you know you're in for something complex).

George, a professor of philosophy, is married to Dorothy, a retired musical theatre star, who may or may not have shot someone last night. Her doctor (lover?) Archie, who dabbles in many trades, is at the house almost every day "treating" Dorothy's symptoms, much to her husband's dismay. There are multiple "jumpers" (acrobats) who backflip and flop around the place, and watch your feet or you might step on Thumper or Pat, a hare and tortoise, respectfully. At the top, George is dictating to his mute (<-- should have been a clue) secretary his upcoming speech on the existence of a higher being. A line that struck me:
In practice, people admit a Creator to give authority to moral values, and admit moral values to give point to the Creation.
Throughout his speeches, George brings up the problem of where things begin. The chicken or the egg? The circular nature of scientific and theological questions - with answers leading to more questions ad nauseam. In fact, George asks SO many questions throughout the play that it left my brain a little fuzzy. Something else he said struck me:
Even the most generalized truth begins to look like special pleading as soon as you trap it in language. 
I often feel that words are a trivial way to describe emotion, or an event - I find myself searching for the words to describe something and having to settle. Some feelings cannot be described appropriately. Except perhaps with backflips and cartwheels.

Saturday Play-a-day: The Metal Children by Adam Rapp

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