Thursday, April 7, 2011

Caring About Characters

One critic wrote of Horton Foote's The Traveling Lady as "old fashioned."  True - compared to Dividing the Estate.  One place this shows is that, while characters in Estate are amusing and life-like, they feel more like performances.  I'm not quibbling actors' technique here (which was excellent) but a presentational quality written into the characters.  Whereas, even with comic exaggeration, characters in Traveling Lady are more life-sized somehow.  Much more sympathetic.  In an age of anti-heroes and cynicism, that makes them very old fashioned indeed!

Proof?  Days after seeing Traveling Lady, my theater companion asked whether, in the 1950s, a respectable lady would go off in a car with a man (the kindly Slim) she'd only known a few days.  We discussed this, deciding that, yes, in Georgette's dire circumstances she would.  Her young daughter would seem a respectable enough chaperon.  We bet Slim would work and save to help pay for Georgette's divorce and they'd marry as soon as the decree arrived.  I think they'll be happy.  Meanwhile, I hope Sitter Mavis doesn't regret not learning to dance too often and that Mr Tillman is speaking to his wife again.

Think anyone left the theater after Estate worrying whether the family's oil well comes in?

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