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The Agony and the Agony

by Nicky Silver

Boy, after reading God and this play, some pieces just feel like intellectual exercises that are meant more for the author. The Agony and the Agony is about Richard - a failing playwright who is always working on something but never successful. His wife Lela, a struggling actress who sleeps with everyone in town, doesn't support him and he feels defeated all the time. In fact, now that I think about it, Richard kind of speaks like Woody Allen:
I hate the movies. All that air conditioning - a person could catch pneumonia.
Apparently this week's theme is neurotic writers who aren't satisfied with their work.

Anyway, there are some laughs to be found in this play, as in all of Silver's work. When Lela finally lands an acting gig (through flirting with a producer at Bergdorf's) she says:
I GOT A JOB! Law and Order!!! It's just the corpse in the cold opening - but you know Law and Order. This week's corpse is next week's killer! 
How long can we keep making L&O jokes?

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were also moments that delved deeper under the surface, into the tortured soul of the artist. Richard addresses the audience:
It's times like these I ask myself, "Why are we so cruel? Why do we hurt each other with such reckless abandon?" Is it because we're all so desperate to create? Because we're artists trying to live in a world that devalues art, that places no importance on our work, on our lives. So we fight, urgently, for a piece, a tiny piece of a pie that's so small it couldn't possibly nourish all the thousands of actors and artists, musicians and human being starving, decaying in the wilderness? Or are we just pricks?
There is some truth to the "dog eat dog" nature of our business, but it is my belief that to find happiness and fulfillment in this career path, we must rise above the petty judgements and competition and reach out a helping hand to our fellow artists. This business will be what we make of it - if we choose to move things forward in a more positive manner - one that focuses on the emotional and physical well-being of people on both sides of the table - perhaps we will find more day-to-day joy. Pay it forward, friends. It'll come back to you.

Tomorrow's Play: Weekend Comedy by Jeanne and Sam Bobrick

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