Mexico - a play by Gertrude Stein.
Part of a series looking at the beginning of plays.
When does a poem know it is a play? When does a play forget and become a poem?
The layout of the text immediately grabs you. It predates Sarah Kane, but perhaps both writers have more in common than might be thought (I'm sure I will write more on Kane later, I wrote about her in 2005 on Cleansed and how her path helped me with Lost In Peru). No set division of dialogue, a lack of stage directions adds to a poetical, elliptical and dream-like nature. I'm not sure it is getting through a reader at a modern theatre today, but perhaps if enough confidence in language is displayed...
"...coworkers caught in a humdrum cycle, the monotony reinforced by Stein’s famed use of repetition. Given their heavy outerwear, wherever they are, it is cold. They come and go. They recite seemingly random facts. Occasionally, they talk of exotic locations, or of boats that travel the open sea. Occasionally, someone will mention Mexico. Mexico is certainly far away from this unnamed place. Mexico is a fantasy built out of potential reality, the kind of fantasy that can keep a person slogging forward when they have nothing else.
After this group of three has cycled through their business together for a time, Matt Test is added to the mix — the interloper, the newb. Test’s character, strangely Vincent Price-like, does not understand the call and response of mundane day-to-day life in this community. He does not understand the importance of the fantasy of Mexico to the functioning of these three. Will he assimilate into the group? Will he irreparably damage the dynamics?..."