Self-pity is one of, if not the, least attractive all human traits. As soon as I catch myself wallowing in the throws of it (which is pretty often) I make an effort to grind it down to a fine powder. It’s downright unmanly.
What helped snap me out of my recent funk (although I had good reasons this time) was the theater, which will come as no surprise to regular readers. I am moved by a live performance the same way others are moved by a piece of music or literature or a gourmet meal.
Who in their right mind would sit through a play about a woman dying of cancer? Sounds like an awful night out. But it isn’t! When WIT opened off-Broadway in 1999, there was talk of moving it to a Broadway house. But the bean counters decided that nobody would go. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and there have been countless regional productions.
It’s finally about to open on Broadway with Cynthia Nixon. She’s on stage dying of ovarian cancer for the entire 1:45 with no intermission. It was a tough, superb performance and an exceptional piece of writing.
They mess with your emotions by loading the script with heaping helpings of sharp humor. Laughs abound. But they can’t fool me. They only do that for juxtaposition. They get you laughing so that when she’s crying in pain it seems all the more horrific. It’s the oldest trick on the book but it works. There was a lot of weeping in the house.
If anything, I suppose the play can be accused of being highly manipulative. But I dare anyone to not surrender to Nixon’s performance. I can’t imagine the critics saying anything negative about her or her excellent cast mates. (Although, you never know, with those bitter old queens.) In the last scene, in a final act of heroism, Nixon stands in a bright, white spotlight, arms stretched upwards, completely naked. Not that her nakedness was the primary focus of the moment. But I did notice.