Sunday, October 21, 2007

Contemplating mortality

A pair of local plays confronted the issue of finite life versus immortality. I saw them both this weekend: Tuck Everlasting at Magical Theatre and The Dead Guy at The Bang and the Clatter. In both cases, I would have made opposite decisions to those made by the protagonists.

In Tuck, a young girl passes on immortal life so she could grow up, get married and have children -- then eventually pass to her grave. She weighs her decision upon meeting a family of eternals, "doomed" to wander the earth and never grow older than the day they drank the magical water. The family must wander and live a Twilight Zone-like existence as folks grow suspicious.

I listened to the various Tuck family members tell us how awful it is to watch the ones you love grow old and die, and how life cannot continue without the changes of birth, growth and death. And yet -- I would have drunk the water -- no question about it. I'm just way too curious about how things turn out and I would not be able to resist the temptation of being able to stick around to the end.

The Dead Guy, features a schmuck who has never looked beyond his immediate present is offered a million dollars to spend in one week on a new reality TV program. The catch is -- he gets the money on Monday and a camera follows him around until Sunday, when he must die. The viewing audience gets to vote for the method of his death. The immortality on offer is that of suddenly becoming known by everybody -- fortune and fame to one who had no hope of ever gaining such status and wealth in his miserable little life.

Not a sympathetic protagonist to begin with, and yet -- the situation brings about the question -- is there anything that could be offered to make one give up life under the conditions offered? Surely not anything material. I could imagine saying OK, if my death brought about world peace or stopped global warming -- but nobody could make good on those deals.

There's nothing I like better than a play that stays with you, bringing questions to mind that can't be answered easily or quickly. Bravo to both companies for providing us with such thoughtful and beautifully rendered productions.

I'm sorry to tell you that these plays wrapped up their public performances this weekend. Tuck Everlasting continues this week with school performances while BNC gets ready for its next production, Bug by Tracy Letts, opening Nov 2nd.

No comments: