Saturday, 11 August 2018

The Josephine Knot by Meg Bram | Play Review







Book: The Josephine Knot


Authors: Meg Braem



Publisher: Playwright's Canada Press


Pages: 64 Pages

Format: Paperback

Source: Sent to me for review by PCP





After Samantha’s baba dies, her fractured family is summoned to pick through the house full of belongings and trash, leaving taped notes on whatever they want to take. Between old napkins, a closet full of ketchup packets, and a freezer full of rotting meat are gems like a grandfather clock and plastic deer statuettes that hold more sentiment. While her father David sifts through his own memories, all Samantha wants is to find a simple object that could represent her place in the family. When other family members arrive, tug of wars and passive-aggressive conversations commence. In a house full of junk and sadness, it comes down to Samantha and David to find a new way to fit together.

This was a play that I had high hopes for, and while I enjoyed reading it, and while I think it was well written, I didn't get what I wanted out of it. I felt really intrigued by the premise, and the language used throughout was really stark and striking, but I felt like I was missing something. It felt almost incomplete.

First I'll start with the characters. Samantha and her father are the two main characters, and while the actors play all the different characters, Sam and her dad are the two mains. Sam felt oddly unexplored, and her father the same. This might sound like the stupidest thing I've ever said, but it felt like this was a play meant to be staged. Almost like something is missing in the written record of it. One of the best things about this play was the dynamic between Sam and her dad in their scenes together. They have this beautiful, dynamic relationship that is one of the few things that translates onto the page.

There were a couple moments that I also felt like the play was under developed. I felt like every situation fell a bit flat, but also that a lot of relationship building happened in between the lines. The lines felt like they relied a lot on the actors playing these parts to fill in the situations with tone, and very specific, dynamic choices. I felt like this play could be three hours long, with half of it done in utter silence, and I would be captivated. 

I thought the writing of it was beautiful. I thought it was smart, emotional, striking, and I think that Meg Braem does a great job as a playwright, but I also think she wrote a piece that relies heavily on actors and directors. She built a beautiful skeleton, but it needs to be built up before it can move about.

But as soon as I finished this, I had made so many choices as to how to direct it. I saw gaps and immediately started to thing about how to fill them in, how to do justice to the story and the writing while rounding out the story. And, I mean, isn't that what a good playwright should do? 

Overall, I enjoyed this story, but it's what happened after I put it down that was the best. Meg Braem created a story with so many possibilities and exploring those is what makes this story come alive. She's created a beautiful skeleton of a piece, in my opinion, and while the actual text left me wanting a lot more, imagining what it looks like as a fully fleshed out person is what makes it worth the read.

3 Stars.

Happy Reading!


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