Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Maddening Truth

photo: Theresa Squire

The current Keen Company play, which concerns the career crisis of Ernest Hemingway's third wife Marth Gellhorn while in her mid-60's, is unfocused: I didn't know what it was driving at until the final scene. Until then, smartly-dressed Lisa Emery moves from chair to typewriter quite a lot as the famed journalist, looking too young for the role and talking to this one or that one (including Hemingway, in flashback scenes) mostly about the demons that have kept her from turning novelist. Too many of these conversations are contrived and ring false, especially the ones with a long term adulterous lover who is essentially a handsome silver-haired sounding board for her too-declamatory dialogue. The play provides something of a genuine character foil for Gellhorn in a young lit snob whose rising career contrasts Gellhorn's water-treading, but we don't see enough of him: if their confrontations were the narrative spine of the play, The Maddening Truth might not be so maddening.

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