TU Theatre’s performance of Laura Neill’s “The End Will Hurt” brought to campus a surreal and introspectively relevant piece of drama.
A girl tries to save the president’s daughter and the Food Network is a voice in some one’s head, all in a world where Facebook is a real human being. Laura Neill’s “The End Will Hurt” came to Tulsa November 10, 2017.
I have seen my fair share of theater around Tulsa, with most shows ranging from decent to pretty good. This play stands out without question.
Done as a concert reading, actors read the script while standing just as if they were acting, but with someone narrating the stage directions and actions instead of the actors performing them. The readers left nothing to be desired. Emily Peterson played Darcy, Mia Graham played Maura and Ally Cook played Cindy. For the guys, Michael Blake played Sergeant, Corey Allcorn played Food Network and Tyler McCoy played Facebook. Faith Greenhagen narrated.
The play revolves around truths and untruths: reality versus non-. Darcy, addicted to war videogames, spends much of the play in the game, speaking to her sergeant and acting father-figure. Cindy, cupcake enthusiast and Darcy’s mother, deals with Food Network, a condescending and discouraging voice in her head.
Maura, Cindy’s mother, gets addicted to Facebook, personified as a wisecracking and manipulative man, as a break from the reality of her approaching death.
None of the characters’ coping mechanisms existed in the reality of the play, yet most of the dialogue from each women was between her and her technological imaginary friend. It provided needed commentary on the distance between people in the Information Age. Each of the emotional crutches were particularly cruel because they were born from each character’s weakness.
Darcy desires a real father, yet she lives her days in a fake world following around her fake father in a fake quest to save the President’s daughter. Cindy is insecure and overly critical of herself, the ultimate prey for Food Network’s perfectionism. Maura struggles with her mortality, which is her attachment to reality. Facebook has a way of bringing up Maura’s many struggles even when Maura is using him to escape, mostly by using user-specific targeting advertisements.
So how well did a play that switched back and forth between a digital world and the real one work? Beautifully. Even with the stage directions being read instead of acted out, the transitions were seamless. That being said perhaps I would have more to critique if I had seen the played instead of listened to it.
The play closes to an end as each woman fought off her demon, choosing to live their own lives instead of fake ones. When each one had perished, the family only had each other left.
Each level of the story intricately described a piece of modern womanhood. The plot twists and character developments were so rich I will not spoil them in case you get the chance to see it in person.
The Neill pioneered a work when female playwrights do not get a fair chance. Well done indeed.