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I think Ms. Jefferson has a very valid point about one weak spot in CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Last Edit: GrumpyMorningBoy 08:07 am EDT 08/21/19
Posted by: GrumpyMorningBoy 07:54 am EDT 08/21/19
In reply to: re: What Margo Jefferson said about Caroline Or Change reminds us of how different the theater would be if there were Black women critics - EvFoDr 12:53 pm EDT 08/20/19

I had very mixed feelings about CAROLINE, OR CHANGE when I saw the Broadway production, and I think Ms. Jefferson has a valid point.

I recognize that Mr. Kushner and Ms. Tesori were being very intentional about writing Caroline as a character who struggles to convey her 'inner world,' but much of that constraint is understood to be within the bounds of white society, where a person like Caroline is simply meant to wash the clothes, dry and iron them, clean the house, and keep her kids out of trouble. Her white employers aren't so interested in her inner world, so we understand why it might be bottled up.

But what's implausible -- and I think THIS is Margo Jefferson's point -- is that Caroline wouldn't express more of that inner world with other people of color. If her stoic nature with Dottie and Emmie is driven by how much she cannot relate to the ways that they're both embracing the advances of the Civil Rights era, I do think it's a flaw of the production that we never get to see in whomever Caroline actually confides and lets down her guard.

Just about everyone has someone who sees our inner world. I think it was a misstep for the authors not to show us that person, even if it needed to be a flashback to a moment with her ex-husband. As a result, Caroline can feel 2-dimensional, not only to the other characters onstage who wrestle with this and push against it, but to us.

I think one reason why CAROLINE, OR CHANGE doesn't resonate with some people is exactly a result of this choice.

It's not made any better by the incredibly thick metaphor lyric of "Lot's Wife." I think some audience members imagine that this is some sort of epiphany for Caroline, or a turning point, or a change... when it's anything but. It's a defiant REFUSAL to change. It's a bargaining with God, really. Caroline is insisting that she cannot change, she will not change, but, to be frank, she hopes God will just help her keep from being an asshole. She feels genuinely guilty about raising her voice with Noah, and she knows she can't do that again. But that's all she's asking for.

And there you have it, folks. It's pretty hard to move an audience when you have a central protagonist who does not change.

I'm not saying that none of the show is emotionally moving; I think there are many moments within the story that are SUPREMELY moving. But the character arc that touches me the most, undoubtedly, is Emmie. I really do think that's where Kusher and Tesori meant us to focus our hearts' hopes, and those final moments of the show are straight up jaw-dropping.

- GMB
Link Lyrics of Lot's Wife from CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
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