vendredi, octobre 20, 2006
Down with Love?
At the end of The Real Thing, the wonderful Tom Stoppard play, Henry, the playwright's playwriting hero/anti-hero, throws a single on his record player (the play was first produced in 1982). As the curtain comes down, the audience is treated to the strains, not of a Mozart concerto or Renaissance madrigal, but to the Neil Diamond/The Monkees tune, "I'm a Believer." An extended riff on the themes of marriage, the uses of language, and the persistence of love, the play examines the protagonists's evolution from emotional immaturity to tempestous infatuation with his lover and then spouse Anne, to extreme frustration as a writer and husband to acceptance and renewed passion...and the possibility of a love that is real (natch) and lasting. When I saw the play, some years after it was first produced in London, I walked out of the theater radiant with Stoppard's refracted love affair with the English language, and hopeful that if love was possible for Henry, this self-infatuated and passionately intelligent creation of a passionately intelligent playwright, then it might be possible for me. Many years and a marriage later, I am still trying to parse the mysteries of romance, love, love within marriage, and love outside of marriage. Having a deep mistrust of the sentimental, I tend to shy away from cliche and infatuation. Knowing how difficult it is to sustain the white hot heat of sensual and emotional intoxication in a relationship, I prefer to calibrate my words, to move incrementally, to watch, assess, weigh and commit one step at a time. On the other hand, I thrive on relationships that offer kindness and trust, passion and daring. So who knows? You'd think I'd have learned something since I encountered Henry and Anne all those years ago in a darkened theater...I have, you know. I've learned that however many times (to paraphrase Sting) I build fortresses, or stumble across somebody elses defenses, I am still amazed, exultant, and humbled when the bridges get built and the battlements set on fire.