I’m So Sorry
(And now, I really *do* have to apologize, for ear-worming you with Uncle Albert…)
Last weekend, we went to see the play Sorry, by Richard Nelson, at the Studio Theatre. This play is part of the Apple Family Cycle — four plays that are each set on a specific date. Each play involves a gathering of the Apple Family (three sisters, their brother, their uncle, and a boyfriend), centering around a meal. Each play unfolds in close to real time, as the family members eat, squabble, push buttons, and generally act like … family.
Studio staged the first two plays — That Hopey Changey Thing and Sweet and Sad — two years ago. We saw Sorry this past Saturday, and we’ll see the last one, Regular Singing this coming Saturday.
The plays — and Studio’s staging — are brilliant. They’re small pieces, pretty much the opposite, say, of Henry V. There are no grand armies, no choreographed fight scenes, no doubling of actors to cover the dozens of characters called for in the script. They have more in common with O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night (although two Apple plays could fit inside one performance of Long Day’s.) But unlike O’Neill, which feels like staged poetry (in the best of all possible ways), the Apple plays feel like real dialog.
Except, of course, they aren’t real dialog.
Real people ahem, and um, and like, and you know. They can’t describe their feelings and their thoughts with near-perfect clarity. They think of the perfect bon mot after the fact, instead of in the moment.
It’s hard to explain what makes these plays such perfect little gems. There’s something incredibly intimate about watching the actor’s eat their food (oh, look, he doesn’t like whipped cream on his ice cream! Oh, she really is opening that third bottle of wine…) The stage is close enough for the actors to tur around and offer a taste to the audience members in the front row. When one character scrapes her spoon against the bottom of her bowl interminably, the sound is every bit as annoying as when your sibling does it at your dinner table.
The program notes say that the playwright was originally contacted to write an epic drama about politics and war. Given his skill, that production probably would be interesting. But the Apple plays, the opposite of epic, the opposite of “politics” as we typically think of the word, are amazing.
So? What about you? Have you ever seen a play that rocked your world?