I finally found a used copy of Ursula Le Guin excellent The Left Hand of Darkness and I have to say that I can’t remember reading a science fiction book that made me feel so uncomfortable. Le Guin’s description of the sexless androgynous Gethen inhabitants of the world Winter is as much a commentary about our society as it is an exploration of another world. In addition, you also see how much Neil Stephenson’s Anathem was influenced by this wonderful book. The Left Hand of Darkness is science fiction at its best. And at only 250 pages it’s short commitment. I highly recommend.
It’s interesting to me that I enjoyed Neil LaBute’s Reasons to be Pretty because the characters are so unlike my experience of the world. The men refuse to grow up and the women are almost solely preoccupied with their looks. But there is something about the humor in the conversations of these shallow characters that ring true in every relationship.
Both of Bock’s short plays “The Receptionist” and “The Thugs” are studies of keeping secrets from the audience as long as possible, even though the characters know what’s going on. I found Bock’s staccato dialogue very challenging. But overall I really appreciated the premise of “The Receptionist”; that complicity with evil is just as bad as evil itself.
Neil Simon’s Rumors is a masterclass in comedic repetition. Simon cultives jokes from the very beginning that playoff throughout the entire play; a lesson in economy and subtly. For example; as each of the couples is introduced the husbands fumble a compliment about their wife’s dress. By the time the third husband fumbles his line at the end of Act 1, you’re laughing at the joke and the fact that each husband has fumbled their compliment. Overall I enjoyed Rumors and would recommend it to anyone looking to improve their comedy game.
“I would have followed Max to the ends of the earth … But the earth went off the air on June first … And we all went our separate ways” Lucas says to the audience in Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor. And there it is. The entertainment business in sum. People come together and make a show. There are good times, there are bad times, but eventually it comes to an end. Then everyone moves on.