September 9th, 2013


Review and bonus commentary on Arthur Miller's "The Last Yankee"

So on Saturday J and I went to see The Last Yankee, a play by Arthur Miller about mental illness and how people deal with it. I wrote up a review of it, but I couldn't really talk about my real response to the play. I'll do that here.

So the play is about two women who are in a mental institution. Both of them were near my age, and the symptoms that their husbands described for them earlier are frighteningly like my own: depression, not sleeping, being afraid to go out of the house. When we finally got to meet the two women (in the second act), I was frightened by the older woman's condition. Her inability to hold a thought, her wandering brain, her lack of connection with reality were all frightening to me. They made me feel like I was seeing what I could become, what could happen to me. I started to get really, really nervous and uncomfortable and afraid: I wanted to leave the theater. And afterwards, my face started to swell up. It was really too, too intense.

It was still a great play, though. I found myself fighting to hold back tears because of the cruelty with which the older woman was being treated by her husband. His disgust at her reminded me too sharply of how I've been treated in the last few years: as too loud, too obviously not normal, too embarrassing. And I saw in her what I could have been if I'd stayed with a partner (?) who treated me like that. I wanted her to get well. I wanted her to not be married to someone who was ashamed of her.

It was all very, very personal for me, and, well, too much for me to share in my review. But I thought I'd share it with you. It was, really, a very moving and good play.