MAY QUEEN CHRONICLES: LAYER BY LAYER by Thomas Putnam
Have you ever stripped wallpaper from a wall? Or refinished a piece of wooden furniture? It's great fun to see what patterns or colors were chosen by former residents of the room. One piece of furniture I stripped had three different colors of paint in addition to a stain. Taking away the layers, one at a time, to reveal the essence. I've been thinking of this image as I've worked through the process of production for our upcoming show THE MAY QUEEN.
The comedy/drama is constructed much like a detective story. We're given a slight bit of information but rather than confirming anything, that bit simply makes us more curious. Sometimes, in fact, we don't even realize it is a clue to something we may discover later. But one bit at a time we discover much about each of the five characters in the story. Four of the characters have known each other in some capacity in the past...and they think they know the person. But, oh, what back-stories we discover as layer after layer is peeled back.
There are some very funny bits in this story and it's a good thing, because we just might not be able to handle some of the revelations. Playwright Molly Smith Metzler knows us, and has a keen sense of what we can handle and just when we need comic breath before we plunge headlong into new discoveries. It's good writing, and good theatre.
The power of story. If someone were to ask me what this play is about there might be a tendency to give some basic facts in a few sentences...or one long run-on. But I can't do that; it would not be the story with all its power. No, I'm resisting the urge, and am urging you to experience the story with all its nuance and careful peeling back of layer upon layer.