L took me out to see a play tonight, "August: Osage County." The play is about this big Oklahoma family that reunites after the patriarch goes missing. Even though it deals with such uplifting themes as suicide, drug abuse, incest, and general family hatred and resentment, the play was hilarious. It was a long one -- three hours, with two intermissions -- but I devoured all of it and wanted even more.
Coming from a family that isn't afraid to do a little yelling in order to work through problems and concerns, some of the dynamics felt very familiar. It was great to see people screaming at each other, cussing, stomping around, and throwing plates, in the kind of cathartic moments that never really happen but perhaps sometimes should. Yet the play hit all the other, more subtle notes, too -- the sense of loyalty, camaraderie, a shared history that is known to only the precious few.
The funniest part, to me, was when one old biddy was telling her niece about a scandalous family secret: that her cousin was actually her brother. As the old aunt is in the process of explaining this, two of their other clueless relatives come wandering in, blithely asking what's new, and the niece suddenly goes jumping over the back of the sofa, waving her hands at the newcomers and yelling, "Go back! Go back!" to make them scurry away so the story won't be interrupted. It was really funny; I guess you had to be there.
Anyways, it was a great night. In classic fashion we had the cheapest possible tickets, which meant we were in the extreme last row of the theater, literally against the wall. But because most attendees of the dramatic theater are richer than us, our area was fairly deserted, so we could spread our coats out, stretch our arms, and crinkle our bags of Skittles and M&Ms with impunity. It was a great night and I was very happy to be there -- so thank you, wife of mine.