La Bute Falls In the Forest

Neil LaBute’s recent play, In the Forest, Dark and Deep, appeared as the opening for this year’s Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepardstown, West Virginia. A group of us left steamingly hot Washington and drove out to see the play on Saturday. One of four enjoyed it while another found it interesting. Myself and my husband both anticipated much of the secrets that the play revealed and this led to us having a disappointed feeling.

It is one thing to know that someone might have acted improperly. It’s another to be able to guess what they did and why halfway through the show. We’ve seen almost all of La Bute’s earlier work and this is by far the least interesting or compelling. While one generally does not like many (any) of his characters, we really had disdain for both of these. Further, the rationale for the way they behaved was at best pop-Freud. Daddy didn’t love you enough. Mom never showed us her emotions.

The person who enjoyed the play still wrestled with concern over the playwright’s possible misogyny. Or as she wondered, was he only showing us how the culture treats women. Even if the latter, haven’t we seen the pretty woman who can’t keep herself from going to be with every man so that she can feel pretty and wanted? We’ve seen the low-class brother who expresses his disappointment in rage toward women who he gets involved with.

She also pointed out that the family dynamics in the play intrigued her as well. She made an interesting point about who knows how to push your buttons than your family. She makes a great point. Our siblings and the rivalry among family members can be intense and can show our personal vulnerabilities.

Shepardstown is a really nice, quaint place. We enjoyed walking down the main street and looking at all the different stores, even one for runners. We enjoyed an excellent early dinner at Shahrazade’s Restaurant and Tea Room.

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