re: I think Ms. Jefferson has a very valid point about one weak spot in CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Posted by: Chazwaza 11:59 am EDT 08/21/19
In reply to: I think Ms. Jefferson has a very valid point about one weak spot in CAROLINE, OR CHANGE - GrumpyMorningBoy 07:54 am EDT 08/21/19

I think you're not giving proper credit to the reality that not everyone has friends, and even if Caroline did, not only does she not have time but she doesn't know HOW to express herself. She is the type of woman who doesn't love gabbing, or gossip - she expresses herself in church or to her husband perhaps, a husband who beat her and is gone.
I don't think it's a weakness of the piece, but the design of it, that Caroline has no one she is willing to express herself to let alone does she really know how at this point. She is angry and fed up with life and is happier keeping to herself, listening to the radio, and seeing that her children are okay.
We have caught her in an especially rough spot. I think it's clear she used to talk to Dottie, who sings, "you never use to be this way, all'va sudden so unfriendly, I never done no harm you". Caroline snaps back immediately, "I don't like the way you do. *You* changed." and criticizes her youthful fashion choices and social behavior and her going to night school.

If Caroline could or did express herself, it would weaken her fight with Noah, and certainly would let out some of the stream of Lot's Wife before it comes.

This is why I criticize Sharon Clarke's performance for not bringing enough layers of comedy to Caroline, who I think feels more fully human (rather than perhaps a device of the authors?) if she isn't all stoic and angry ALL the time.

And while I agree that it is HARD to move an audience this way, they certainly succeeded in moving me. I am barely moved by Emmie's story - yes, I am when she does "Teach me what you know momma" and "I hate the bus" and then "I'm sorry I called you a maid" and I am devastated at the last lines "I'm the daughter. Of a maid." etc. Her relationship to Caroline is what kills me. Same with Noah. Caroline provides the means for these amazing characters to learn and grow, even if she can't herself.
But what I'm most moved by is Caroline, all the way through I feel her stuckness, her suffocation, or desperation for relief, her circumstantial prison, her inability to be what she wants or needs to be, her exhaustion with her life and the world. Her short temper isn't unpleasant for me to watch, it's fascinating and illuminating and emotionally effective.

I recognize that I see a different show than a lot of people when I see Caroline... but from where I sit, Caroline's inability to change doesn't make it hard for me to be moved, it makes it possible, and in breathtakingly creative and unique way.

And we agree about the final moments of the show (though I do sometimes wonder if Emmie's last sung monologue goes on a bit too long), I am stunned and in awe every time... but it's largely because of how moving it is to know that Caroline is seen and appreciated in a way she may never know. By Noah and her own children even more. But I am just as devastated and moved by Caroline and Noah's final imaginary sung conversation. For me there's nothing better than "and there's never any money... so it's very very calm" or "someday we'll talk again but there's things we'll never say... that sorrow deep inside you, it inside me too and it never go away".... and even more "weren't never friends" and then "do you miss sharing a cigarette? / you bet I do, Noah. You bet." God it's just packed with moving things between these two characters. And one of the most moving and brilliant things about the show is that all of those kinds of things are in conversations they have that aren't actually happening in a legit reality, it's Noah in his bed alone and Caroline at her house smoking.

Previous: re: I think Ms. Jefferson has a very valid point about one weak spot in CAROLINE, OR CHANGE - Michael_Portantiere 05:20 pm EDT 08/21/19
Next: Really appreciate you taking the time to express all of this - GrumpyMorningBoy 09:47 am EDT 08/22/19

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