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All This Intimacy

by Rajiv Joseph

I've been putting off writing this post. I thought a LOT about how I feel about this play. I liked it. And I didn't. In a nutshell, the play is about a man who gets three women pregnant in one week - his girlfriend, his next door neighbor, and his student. Now, this man is not a stud. He is just vulnerable. That doesn't make him less of an asshole, however. I struggle with the play because I don't sympathize with the main character - Ty, who is a poet (of course). And before you say that I just hate him cause I'm a woman and what girl wouldn't think he's awful, let me go on to say that I also do not side with any one of the women. From the text, I don't feel emotionally connected to any of them. So, I'm left with lots of feelings and none of them good. But it's Thanksgiving and I'd like to feel happy things today so I'll mention some moments in the play that I did connect to.

Jen is Ty's girlfriend who, when we first meet her, is breaking up with him. She tells him:
When it comes to figuring out what to do with my life, I've been seriously claustrophobic. Because choosing things narrows down your life, it limits you and it freaks me out. I'm not kidding. Every time you make a decision, you narrow your life more and more...
I responded to this moment because it reminded me of a conversation I had with an agent a little while ago about how sometimes you have to limit yourself temporarily in order to expand your options in the future (for more on that conversation, buy me a drink). It can be hard to make those big decisions. For Jen, her path was pretty much revealed when she found out she was pregnant. It's funny how life will hand you something wonderful just when you need it. Or just when you can't have it. Or just when you least expect it. Or, or, or...

Becca is Ty's student who won him with her wistful words.. When speaking of his new book of poetry, she encourages him:
It doesn't matter how many you sell. If your poetry affects one person, then that's all that matters. That's how you change the world. You're changing the world with your poetry.
This could easily come off as cheesy, but the romantic in me believes that art can and does change the world. Poems speak right to the heart, just as songs change minds, and theatre drives you to action.

The other mother of his child is his neighbor, Maureen. Ty decides to host the most awkward of all dinner parties - including his three baby mommas, his ex's sister and her fiance, who also happens to be his best friend. At this "party" all of the women find out about each other and.. well, it's dramatic. Ty tells the audience:
I wanted this. I wanted everyone to converge. I needed it to happen. I mean, breaking this kind of news to a girl... THREE TIMES... and having to deal with the fallout three times and I'm telling you: I just couldn't handle that. I'm weak. So... Dinner. Everyone at once. Three birds with one stone. 
And herein lies my main issue. I think that he should have to go through that three times. Each woman is unique and deserves to hear the truth from him individually. I don't think it was weak of him, I think it was cowardly (ultimately more dramatic for play purposes? yes, but still). I just can't feel bad for a guy who takes the easy route. And don't think you'll win me over with your heartfelt soliloquies.. that didn't work for Richard III and it won't work for you, Ty.

I should note that this play is very funny. If the female characters were expanded a bit more, it would grow in my esteem.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow's Play: Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca, in a version by Ted Hughes

1 comment:

Alaina Papish said...

I agreed with you on most parts of this review, but I would like to offer a different perspective on one thing you said. You mention that you would have liked to actually see him deal with all of the women separately, instead of all at once, a way that I think focused a little too much on emphasizing the already strongly characterized Ty and not on that of the three women. But, just because he didn't initiate it doesn't necessarily mean it didn't happen. I saw this idea of separate confrontation play out at a much more vital point in the plot: when he is begging for their forgiveness. If he had dealt with them separately before, it would have weakened the impact of how desperate he is for redemption. The way that the unveiling was handled also gives a strong justification to all of their reactions when he does finally come around.
This is all my opinion, but I thought you would enjoy another perspective. (:


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