Sunday, June 7, 2009

Play (Book) Review

While my manager was in New York City last weekend (for Book Expo America) he twittered about, amongst other things, a new play that has just been published by Wallace Shawn: "Grasses of a Thousand Colors". If you aren't familiar with his work, you'll at least know him as the guy from "The Princess Bride" that repeatedly exclaims, "inconceivable!" Yep, that guy. But don't judge his work by that performance alone, as I'm sure he would not like that very much. Anyways, I came across the aforementioned play the other day at work and mentioned it to my manager. We talked a little about it, but not enough for me to know what to expect, and he gave me his free copy to enjoy. Being that I was home ill today, I decided to give it a read.

The play begins, unfortunately for me (as a mere reader), without any sort of scene setting. One must imagine how these scenes are unfolding. To me, it was almost as if the narrator, Ben, was giving a lecture at a podium. I doubt this is true though. He reads aloud, acknowledging the audience, his memoirs. Most of the play focuses on the love affairs that he and the other three characters (Cerise, Robin, and Rose) have throughout a long period of time. There are a few life lessons to be glorified throughout, but other than that, I found the play to be rather eccentric.

Granted, the material of which the narrator speaks is not being played out, merely retold; but still, I found myself questioning the sanity of the playwright. Ben gives a very long and thorough speech about his relationship with his penis. I thought that was the extent to which the material would go. I was completely wrong. At one point, Ben wakes from the night, goes outside, climbs atop a horse and ventures through a forest to a castle. In this castle, he sits at a table, and is eventually masturbated by a cat. He mentions how he ejaculated all over her paw.
"At a certain point in the meal, I felt the white cat's paw move onto my leg. Playing with my testicles humorously and slowly, she watched me eating the mice, a drunken, drowsy expression wavering on her face. The somehow her paw had extracted my member from inside my trousers...Finally, to be known, I thought, as hot sperm flowed out of me, flowing over her paw as if it would never stop" [pp. 35].
From there, they go upstairs, and have sex. Other eccentricities include eating mouse-themed foods--that is, food with mice in them--, Ben being sodomized by a clown while a house-maid jerks him off, and the subsequent beheading of the cat and it growing back.

The line between reality and illusion is blurred by the mixture of seemingly real and eccentric adventures in which the characters all partake. I have no doubt that this play contains far more in terms of morals and messages than I can pick up in one quick reading, but I think I need to give it some time before I give it another go. If you have two hours to spare, I suggest reading it.

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