“Don’t be silly, Antonia.”
Another farce, this time written with his partner. The situation begins with a husband and wife, with the wife threating suicide and then husband arguing about the correctness of their shifting their relationship into an open marriage. You can see from the opening line quoted above the general tenor of how this goes. The play is farcical and plays around especially with convention and tone. It’s also a short play. The whole play is a back and forth on the topic of marriage and fidelity tied into the man especially wanting an open marriage for his own purposes.
This is a continuing conversation of course. To whatever extent progress has been made in most Western societies regarding gender and sexuality equality, there’s a throughline about a certain kind of male understanding that approaching equality offers up some real opportunities to take advantage of things. The man here of course wants the open marriage not so that the marriage can be open but so that his marriage can be open, open for him to explore and do what he wants. As you can guess, when the suggestion leads to the wife considering what her options might then be, this challenges his sense of things and what he wants out of it. All animals are equal of course, but some animals are more equal. This reminds of the ways in leftwing politics and especially the sexual revolution has led to a kind of sexual pressure toward openness, and not consent in some men’s minds, and how feminism has offered up an opportunity to be “sex positive” in a way that really offers up opportunities to someone who wants to take advantage.
An Ordinary Day
Another shorter play written with his wife Franca Rame. In John Cheever’s “The Enormous Radio” a couple in a Manhattan apartment building get a new radio which for reasons never explained begins playing the sounds of their neighbors and their private conversations. The horror (comedically) in the story in the possible implication of the neighbors being able to tap into their conversation.
In this play, we also get an exploration of the intrusion of voices into our lives when a woman plays her answering machine tape to find that someone has left her a message detailing a long story that would otherwise be part of a private therapy session. When this person calls back, she is told in no uncertain terms that her number has been posted, which requires her to listen. A similar thing happens when she switches on the tv to find an alarming amount of private information from other people’s lives being blasted into her life from watching.
I think about this a lot, that we have an absurd and disturbing amount of information about other people’s lives not only given to us to consume if we want, but often seemingly forced upon constantly. The absolute amount of content that’s out there, often private, but more so, specific to one person’s life that we have sort through, and worse hold an opinion about. One of the worst parts of outrage as we currently have it is this idea that there’s somehow a responsibility to think something or feel something because I accidentally got exposed to someone else’s business against our will.