Monday, October 25, 2010

I Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath

Photo: Stephen Stoneberg

I believe that no topic is off-limits to the artist, yet I found myself uncomfortable watching Edward Anthony's play I Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath, which imagines the thoughts and images in Plath's mind in the moments before she died. I thought it presumptuous, even exploitive, to co-opt Plath's creations, life, and fame and tacky to use her suicide as a object of humor. That being said, on its own terms I Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath (the title is from a Ryan Adams' song) is an intriguing exploration of Plath's life, relationships, and talent, and it certainly doesn't lack creativity. I particularly liked the "Better Tomes and Garden" TV show and the "51-liar lasagna" recipe that Plath "cooks." Elisabeth Gray is impressive as the sole live performer in the show, compelling both as Plath (here called Esther Greenwood, the name of the protagonist in Plath's largely autobiographical novel The Bell Jar) and as the voices of a number of family members.


Wendy Caster said...

I was not aware when I wrote this that Edward Anthony is Elizabeth Gray's pseudonym.

Ginger said...

I like what you said about "no topic is off-limits to an artist" but that there are some things that seem to be tacky.

Reminded me of philosopher Roger Scruton's BBC interview I recently saw:

Thought you might enjoy.

Wendy Caster said...

Fascinating stuff. Thank you for sharing. I think he speaks a bit too much in absolutes--I beleive there is still beauty in much art, architecture, etc--but his larger points are strong.