Written and directed by
Richard Maxwell / New York City Players
© New York City Players
Sometimes reality looks like a fake copy of itself, as if all the elements and details that usually give it weight have lost their ballast, and they tremble, threatened by a sense of their impending disappearance. The Evening is part of a triptych inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. In this play written and directed by Richard Maxwell, one of the most talented American playwrights of his generation, three characters – a barmaid/prostitute, a cage fighter and a corrupt manager – discuss their future, fight, and play with their destiny, while a rock group plays melancholic songs. The neatly-chiselled dialogue flows into folk-rock songs; the characters seem somehow aware they are merely roles; and everything that happens on stage seems both real and unreal at once, caught in the murky, ambiguous waters of theatrical performance. Beatrice, the heroine of the play, talks about her “suffocating dreams,” in which she feels caught “between two worlds,” and the dreams won’t allow her to step into either one. While Richard Maxwell was writing The Evening, his father was dying. And though the story that unfolds on stage is coloured by a sense of loss, three different ways of existing in the world are played out by the characters, with all their contradictions, from the banal to the astonishing. The Evening resounds like an elegy, yet despite everything, it is flashed through with the joy of being alive.