A few weeks ago I went to a staged reading of a script that I have watched develop over the years, and it was gratifying to see how much life and vulnerability that the actors gave to the script.
Most of the actors had been involved in reading pages from this script for some time, and they brought a lot of nuance and humanity to the reading of the characters.
I didn’t understand when I watched/listened to the reading why I experienced the two women in the script to be such completely different characters than what I had understood them to be. It was only afterwards when the director pointed out to me that, unlike the previous readings I had seen of the script, the two principal actress had exchanged roles.
This had been the director’s idea, and I was surprised that I hadn’t recognized the switch in the actresses – I saw very different characters because of this casting change, and they was very intriguing.
But what I missed, and what I had hoped for, was a script that could deliver that kind of surprise and dimension in the writing. Several times conflict would simmer up from all the talking onstage, and yet it wouldn’t quite boil up to a resolution or crisis. Poignant, hurtful, insightful things were said. It just didn’t matter much what they said. The characters went off at the end of the play pretty much as they started. I do think the playwright is a very good writer, but this script seemed to miss the mark for me. I left somewhat chafed and dissatisfied.
Maybe it’s because I’ve gone through such a sea change in myself and my life this past year, that I want to see/hear/experience rousing life changing theater. I’m grateful to have the chance to have witnessed the growth and development of this script – and I learned a lot by not liking it.