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In a Forest, Dark and Deep Neil LaBute

In a Forest, Dark and Deep

Neil LaBute

ISBN : 9780571277261
82 pages
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 About the Book 

This emperor wears no clothes. Reading this play, I was locked in a forest cabin with three obnoxious and incessant voices. Yes, three -- even though the play only features two characters. The characters are a brother and sister in their forties. Hes a carpenter, she is a college professor. They do not have a close or friendly relationship, but she has sought his help in clearing her cabin of the personal effects of a recent tenant. The bickering begins on the first page of dialogue, never stops, and often -- too much like real life -- repeatedly cycles through loops and eddies of potshots and barbs that do not advance the plot or develop the characters. There IS a plot, and contradictory dimensions within each character ARE revealed, but not before the excess chatter, sarcastic zingers, curses, and complaints become tedious. Cut cut cut.And as to the third insufferable voice mentioned above, I refer to the stage directions, excessive in number and reach, extending far beyond illustration of actions into dictates about performance and behavior, much overuse of the vague beat as a stage direction, and weird, unwelcome commentary. Here is an example of the latter: A rumble of thunder and lightning. The lights flicker on and off. Why not? Its perfect timing. Really?The major theme of the story is deception, as secrets are revealed and lies unraveled to reveal a major twist near the end that is telegraphed a bit -- any fan of mysteries and thrillers will discover the terrible truth well in advance.Another theme is that of the moral compass, and there is a sexist overtone in how the play treats the characters flaws. The wife-hitting male character defends his moral code (he hits women but doesnt cheat on them) and holds the high ground while the sister, it is revealed, is haplessly led by her womanish libido, ultimately undone and deranged by her need to be the object of male sexual interest. Please, oh please.