Monday, March 05, 2012

I Didn't Connect to Ruskin's Lonesome West

I couldn't relate to any of the characters in Lonesome West.  It was well acted, the set was great, the tiny theater puts everyone almost on the stage, and I could hear it all well, though the Irish accents were so thick, I had trouble understanding at times, mainly the priest's words got lost.

That was my reaction as we left the Ruskin Group Theater Saturday night and I pretty much decided not even to post about it.  It just wasn't my world at all.

But it seems my brain has been working on this without my knowing and this morning my reaction was clearer.  We like some art because it reflects what we feel.  But really good art should help us understand things and people we don't know.  That's what was missing.

Lonesome West takes place in Ireland - I think they mentioned Galway in the play, and Wikipedia confirms that.   There's lots of alcohol and two adult brothers who do their best to piss the other off.  (It's a lot grimmer than that, but that's enough.)

I couldn't relate to these characters and nothing happened in the play to bridge the gap.  They were strangers at the beginning and not much more at the end.  There was some allusion to past wrongs that could justify the brothers' hostility to each other, but I never felt I got into any of the character's hearts.  I was watching these dysfunctional siblings and their equally troubled friends, and I always was an outsider.  I never saw the world from their view.  I never felt their pain.  Mostly I was irritated at their constant fighting.  For me, a really good play would have made me understand - emotionally as well as rationally - why they had so much trouble breaking the cycle.   We never got a glimpse of their humanity, only their self-destructive behaviors.

It's a pity.  This could be a universal play.  Certainly many rural Alaskan villages (not to mention some urban Alaskan settings) see the same kinds of alcoholism and violence that's portrayed in this production.  Is there a commonality that we could learn from?  I didn't get it watching this play.

I do like this little theater in the Santa Monica Airport which holds maybe 70 spectators (the photo of the set was from my seat before the play began) and is easy walking distance from my mom's.  And we'll see what they're doing next time we're here.  And I am still thinking about what I saw. 

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