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re: GREATER CLEMENTS Last Night (Possible Spoiler)
Last Edit: Delvino 07:16 am EST 11/29/19
Posted by: Delvino 07:08 am EST 11/29/19
In reply to: GREATER CLEMENTS Last Night (Possible Spoiler) - sergius 01:07 pm EST 11/28/19

Agreed.

MILD SPOILERS

The organic nature of the first two acts -- the story proper built on a truly compelling predicament, the need to shutter forever a mining museum in a town where mining was both an industry and a cultural legacy -- is so compelling, the turn to melodrama makes us suddenly, sadly aware of the authorial hand, moving chess pieces. This is a beautiful construct, a 65-year-old woman taking charge of a life frittering away due to circumstances beyond her control, and we are invested in the smallest of turns in that demonstrate resiliency. Ivey's sunny disposition for this woman, somehow both sincere and the character's applied mask, gives this woman heroism: she's determined to cling to arguably unearned optimism. When things turn bleak, she re-pastes the smile and soldiers on, and it's deeply moving.

But to my thinking, Hunter's gift is for finding those tiny, quotidian epiphanies and triumphs, not the startling turns of story. We slowly, effortlessly get to know this woman -- the smallest of things (when her pie is complimented, she says "I didn't make the crust," perfect detail) defining her plight and push-ahead character. And then Hunter feels the story needs tragic dimension, and he imposes two turns too many on a tale that becomes too focused on the objects Ivey's character cannot survive. Hunter builds his play's cathartic event on a strategically overheard conversation, and even worse, on someone hearing only part of it. What follows leaves us feeling manipulated in the wrong way, the external hand of the dramatist forcing decisions and behavior and pushing tragedy rather than allowing it unfold. The play's third act feels both unfinished and somehow too re-written, to make sure the sad horrors that befall this woman are tethered to theme. A deus ex machina arrives carrying no story but plenty of messaging, and it finally overwhelms, irony laid atop bleakness. And worst of all, forces Ivey to have another confrontation with her own deep well of pain -- one we've seen twice before in the same act. The play just disappoints, even if Ivey and Donovan make the most persuasive case for its richness. I kept rooting for it, almost to the end. Hunter is so good, the world here so complete and original, we feel he might even spin the melodrama into something fresh. But the play writes itself into a dark corner.
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