Friday, November 13, 2009

The Lesser Magoo - by Mac Wellman

The Lesser Magoo
completes Wellman's Crowtet series. It is available at for download as a pdf.

The Lesser Magoo opens in an office where Torque is being 'rogated' by Candle & Curran. A dressing down, an arbitrarily abusive interview? The nature of their work is alluded to, the Nature of Crowe's Dark Space, old feuds and traditions and the history of their people. In this invented history, which combines sheer invention with familiar locations and references all delivered as convention would dictate, there are objects and locations mentioned which will resurface elegantly later in the play. It becomes murkliy apparent that one wouldn't want to be identified as an unusualist. Something horrible happens to Torque off-stage. There are moments of stillness. Joegh Bullock is seen hanging in a closet, he held Torque's position previously but has, "suffered a fatal self-erasure." And an invitation to visit Moonhat is extended by Candle to Curran.

The next scene opens on Moonhat estate with many guests at a lawn party. They will drift in and out of the scene as necessary. There is occasional singing. Much attention paid to the young and beautiful Tessora. Aunt Sycorica is appropraitely witchy. A literary figure discusses his work loosely. There are discussions about 'unusualists' and much discussions about other guests. The ghost of Joegh Bullock wanders in asking to be noticed, only Tessora can see him. A crippled old philosopher, Foss, arises from his wheelchair and walks into the woods. A Corn Knife is discovered (like one described in the first scene) and hastily hidden away. The former Senator speaks at length - this monologue feels like a touchstone, in that it has a coherence and point of view from our world. He speaks of his exhaustion fighting off the Pentagon and the Department of Defense, the shame of all the money going to fight wars while schools and public resources diminish. He rails against the corporations suffocating the common man, while the voters vote for policies and politicians that help them do just that. Aunt Sycorica asserts that,

In my own country, in my own lifetime, people proceeded to be MAD... insane mind you, just in order to escape responsibility. (p. 60)
then the guests begin acting strangely...

The final scene takes place in the woods. Tessura has followed Foss and Curran has followed Tessura, there is talk of randomness and talk of death. From a distance, the literary figure (dressed as Bottom with an Ass's head) and the former senator watch the women. Tessura describes disturbing things she's witnessed her parents doing in the woods and her fears of becoming an unusualist when all she wants is a normal life. The Ghost returns and she sends him away. Foss, the now - not -paralyzed philosopher returns with a silver foot, Tessura glows, luminous and is ascended, screaming, into the night sky.

The play is language and tumbling stories/histories, rich, playful, nonsensical, rhythmic, allusive and elusive. Slippery nonsense and pained expression of futility of fighting the nonsense that passes for policy. Theatrical and resisting standards of traditional interpretation, The Lesser Magoo, feels tricky and at the same time explains many of its tricks in the text.. another play that begs another, closer read - and then another - and (one hopes) a chance to sit and watch in the theatre with a beer.

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