If you read the description of This Wide Night, you would think there are only two characters in the play. Lorraine and Marie are big characters who inhabit the stage at West End Players Guild (one more weekend for those of you who haven’t seen it yet – RUN to get tickets…it’s that good…but I digress). They aren’t alone, and the people you don’t see are huge…the elephants in the room. One of them is Ben…Lorraine’s son. You never see him, and you only hear his actual words at one point in the play, but he’s such a powerful presence. And he’s someone different to each of us who’s working on the play. We had a discussion about what kind of person he is, and our takes on him were as far apart as if we’d actually met him somewhere and got together to talk about him. Is he cold, distant, misunderstood…what are the reasons for the choices he makes, and are they defensible in the context of who we know his mother to be?
Then there’s Marie’s boyfriend. We don’t meet him either – but independently Sean and Rachal had already decided on his name…and it was the same name. Is she staying with him (and from the way she describes him you wonder why anyone would), or is she going to break free? What does he/will he do if she does indeed walk away from him.
We also hear about the people who are supposed to be supporting and helping these two women. It has made me think for weeks now, what exactly is helpful to someone just coming out of prison. What does she want (other than winning the lottery, which we all want)? Does a person really “pay her debt to society,” even after the sentence is fulfilled? Do we allow them to truly move on, create a life? These are the kinds of elephants that won’t be leaving, even after we take the walls of the bedsit down.