Act 2 Scene 5

Plot

After the performance, Justin congratulates Lewis on his ‘marvellous’  [pg 84]  play. He comments on how Lewis succeeded in brining the cast ‘out of their shells,’ the goal of his project. Congratulating Lewis again, Justin presents him an envelop with his pay.

Ruth thanks Lewis while still obsessing over the number of steps she took on stage. Doug comes up, stating that he was a part of the audience. He asks about Lewis’ girlfriend and when Lewis shares that he and Lucy have split, Doug says he meant Julie. Lewis avoids the question; Doug goes on to declare that he might go after Lucy since she is into ‘free love and orgies’ [pg 86]. As usual, Cherry tells him to ‘go burn a cat.’ Cherry shoves chocolate liqueur down Lewis’ mouth. She then kisses him ‘long and passionately’ and departs. Henry shakes Lewis’ hand with his left hand that was previously ‘paralysed.’ Lewis asks Henry about his arms, but Henry brushes it off, saying that the bad arm ‘changes.’ Henry exits.

Lewis undresses, only to have Julie watch him surreptitiously. She reveals that she’s going to leave the institution for Sydney, and an upset Lewis offers to driver her to the railway station. However, she quietly rejects his offer since she thinks she has fallen for him. She explains that the problem is that she has a girlfriend, who will be joining her in the move. She announces her goodbye by kissing him on the cheek. Coincidently Cherry walks in, and upon seeing the kiss, pulls out her flick knife. Lewis jumps between the two to protect Julie and fervently kisses Cherry in order to calm her down. He takes the knife from her, calling it a ‘keepsake’ [pg 87]. Julie leaves by mocking Cherry, declaring that Lewis was ‘the best lay I’ve ever had’ [pg 88]. Lewis calms Cherry once again by saying that Julie was only ‘teasing’ her. Roy comes in, providing Lewis a list of criticism, declaring that next year, they will perform Don Giovanni.

Alone, Lewis explains in a soliloquy that ‘there was no next year’ since the ‘theatre mysteriously burn down a week after the performance.’ He had moved out of his apartment soon after. Lucy and Nick ‘didn’t last long because both were not into fidelity.’ Cherry had sent him a love letter, while Ruth became a ‘time and motion expert’ after leaving the institution. Roy moved between wards. Henry and Julie died while Zac joined the music industry. Lewis then turns off the lights on stage leaving the darkness behind.

Analysis

Albeit the chaotic performance with missed music queues and the consequent improvisation, the play is a success. The overall experience of working with each other has enlivened the patients and helped them to ‘blossom’ [pg 84] out of their solitude. Cherry’s favourite phrase, ‘go burn a cat’ [pg 86] presents a tone of affection towards Doug, rather than her previous feelings of irritation. The flick knife, previously a symbol of her cold defense and sharp character is now in the hands of Lewis, demonstrating that she has rendered herself to warmth and fondness.

Meanwhile, Henry accidently switches from one bad arm to the other, which may be an indication of improving illness. The ‘bad arm’ is a physical representation of his illness, but the shift between arms may demonstrate that the illness is no longer absolute due to the delight the project has provided Henry. His death however, indicates a relapse in mentally, and draws the conclusion that although the project was highly beneficial, it was fleeting.

Although Roy initially despised Lewis’ directing skills, his presentation of the list Lewis demonstrates that Roy does appreciate and value Lewis’ work. Roy’s positivity towards creating a new play the next year again how a simple project can drastically help the ill, in contrast to the mental institutions that seem to do very little, if not even worsen the health of patients.

Important Quotes

‘What can you expect from catatonics, right?’ [pg 84]

‘My motto is to try and try again.’

‘You do this old fashioned opera – this is the era of free love and orgies.’ [pg 86]

‘I need my girlfriend. She’s stood by me, through thick and thin, mostly thin.’ [pg 87]

‘You do have a few teething problem with your direction. I made up a list of them.’ [pg 88]

‘Always use the word please and thank you when addressing the cattle, after all, they’re not actors.’

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