Chris Durang

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DURANG IN AN HOUR

"The Marriage of Bette and Boo" is a memory play, Durang style. Like its ancestor, Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie," there is a son, Matt, who introduces the tale, periodically explains characters and events to the audience, and on occasion takes part in the action. But the darkly farcical tone and the sometimes absurdist theatrical style are a world apart from Williams. "The Glass Menagerie" has dreamlike aspects; "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" is intentionally a very funny nightmare....

....The characters and events are horrific but hilarious, for here is the epitome of the dysfunctional American family, running amok but created with enough truth to be completely believable. Durang blends the ridiculous and the awful so artfully that the audience hardly knows where not to laugh.

By the end, however, the play's poignancy fully emerges. Matt, the lone, relatively stable figure, narrates a portrait of a chaotic family but also conveys his love for this messy group, and particularly for his mother. "The Marriage of Bette and Boo" is a kind of love letter from Matt to Bette (or, if you want to follow the autobiographical trail, from Christopher Durang to his mother, Patricia). The comedy ends, ironically but movingly, with a kind of rebirth, for Matt has survived his family's craziness and cruelty. In a moment that calls to mind the end of "The Glass Menagerie," Matt speaks to the audience and expresses his deep affection for the departed Bette:

Bette passed into death, and is with God. She is in heaven where she has
been reunited with the four dead babies, and where she waits for Boo and
for Bonnie Wilson, and Emily, and Pooh Bear and Eeyore, and Kanga and
Roo; and for me.

From "Durang in an Hour" by Alexis Greene. Introduction by Robert Brustein.