There is something haunting about this play. Maybe it is how real it is, and how little we acknowledge these types of interactions in our own lives. A family get together that ends how it always ends, lacking closure or peace of mind. Deirdre and Erik supposedly worked through their marriage issues, Aimee falls to pieces over her break up and future life as a “freak” with a colostomy bag, and Brigid and Richard are settling into their noisy, dark, and dingy apartment. The realness of the play comes from the problems that each member has to deal with. If you and your family have absolutely no issues then you are among a minority (or maybe just lying).
One thing that I tried to understand was the significance of the staircase. It was on the playbill and it was used by every performer (except for Momo). The most logical significance was that it was a spiral staircase, it symbolized the family’s descent into some sort of disarray; their lives spiral out of control. The night started as every family gathering starts, hopeful and happy. The family is excited for Brigid and Richard as they reach a new milestone of their lives. By the end there have been several wounds that were opened and will probably remain open for many years. Every member of the Blake family brings something to the table that has been haunting them. Just like most normal people they use alcohol to try to forget these problems, its Thanksgiving, and they just want to be happy that they are together.
Humans are remarkable things. As Richard brings up, there is a comic that flips the roles of monsters and humans. To monsters that we often deem as scary, Humans are the things they are scared of. Who can blame them? We are mean and cruel and just unfaithful to one another. While we try to look past it, its very hard to forgive others, especially family. Deirdre is often told to stop talking, because she goes on about things that Brigid is embarrassed about. One could certainly see that have an effect on her, her tone of voice becomes a little sadder. It is strange to really be forced to watch this exchange happening over and over. I think I would normally try to avoid this interaction and excuse myself to the bathroom or another room, but you are forced to watch and feel pretty bad about it. Another thing is introduced is the idea of empathy, Erik had a traumatic experience in New York, and Brigid has trouble understanding and respecting that. Humans are often caught bringing up and messing with emotions. I am guilty of it.
As the family is wrapping up dinner, the lights begin to go out, one by one, I think this is a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life. One light goes out, then another, and another; nothing lasts as long as we expect them to. We never really notice how dark it is until all of the lights are out, and it is pitch black. The door is opened and a light glows from the outside, as terrified as Erik is, he knows he has to exit and go through the “tunnel” and towards the light. You are snapped back into reality as the door slams shut. It is a play that stuck with me and made me ponder life as I rode the subway back to Flatbush. I think Erik’s exit was a really good way to show that life is impermanent; it’s probably best to be aware of others and how they are feeling while the lights are still on and the door is still propped open.