A few other thoughts on this new work by Kushner occurred to me.
Tony Kushner’s new play, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… has a truly serious subject at its core. Suicide. Or rather, attempted. Still, it’s a tough subject. Particularly for anyone who has known someone to have tried such a thing. Or worse, succeeded.
This subject also contains a problem with the script, which is that as an audience member I’m not sure why this person would’ve attempted it. I mean, I can conjur up a reason, or even two perhaps. But they don’t feel compelling enough. They weren’t presented sharply enough to justify—if that’s the right word—such a thing.
As someone who has had a family member commit suicide, I of course thought of that person, that circumstance and those relationships, all while watching the show at certain scenes. I don’t know if my personal knowledge actually colored the show for me one way or another, outside of one particular moment that struck me strongly. I think there’s just as good a chance I’d have had that same reaction had I never known someone to kill himself.
I digress. My point is that this was one of the issues we talked about on the way home that night. I walked away from the show thinking about how I really wanted the character who had attempted suicide to show me, give me, hint at a reason as to why—it occurs to me that so often with suicide, we don’t know the real reason why. We can assume. We can guess. We can deduce. But finding out why is something we may likely never truly know, and our only option is settle on that reason within our own selves in order to move on.
Perhaps that truthism tells me that just because I wanted something from a character in this new play doesn’t mean I should get it. In fact, had I gotten it, it would’ve been a very different play and likely less interesting. When everything is handed to you in theatre, and nothing is left to mystery or wonder, it’s might no longer be theatre. Or it might no longer be good theatre. It might be a sermon or and academic lecture or a documentary or even journalism. But it may pull itself out of the art.
Yeah, I guess that Tony Kushner guy knows how to write a few things.