A Response to “Company”

I was able to attend a showing of “Company” this weekend. The performances were adequate and there were no obvious miscues or any of the various other maladies that can afflict a play. The plot itself was concerned entirely with the problem of marriage; that is, it is a problem for Bobby, the protagonist. He has just turned 35 and is contemplating whether or not he should commit himself to another human being or maintain his solitude. Bobby takes the audience into the past with musings that are anachronistically explored in several vignettes and concern his relationships with five different married couples and some girlfriends.  He is constantly pressured and harangued about his status as a single man by these couples. Bobby can’t explain why he isn’t single and neither can his married friends. But the audience is privy to knowledge that none of the characters are: the decision between marriage and solitude is a false choice. Every character in “Company” is lonely. Marriage is treated as little more than a device to inflict one’s loneliness on another.

Bobby plays the straight man as he reminisces about his experiences with these “zany” couples. One couple in particular highlights the false choice mentioned above. Larry and Joanne are anything but blissfully married. Larry is “fascinated” by Joanne and Joanne is on her third marriage. Even the most amateur scholar of Rand would recognize that Joanne is looking out for her well-being (for the better). She gets what she wants out of marriage and then moves on, always alone and insecure. The play intends for the audience to dislike her, she’s a loud, obnoxious, bossy chore of a woman, but the savvy viewer will recognize that she embodies the ethos of the play. Joanne is mercenary in her approach to marriage and to life, a position to which Bobby should aspire.

The play attempts to redeem this false choice at the end by contending that the choice between marriage and being a bachelor is the choice between experiencing the entire breadth of human emotion (the soaring heights and the unfathomable lows) and a muted dysthymia. I don’t buy into the play’s argument but to my own: man lives and dies alone; marriage is but a needless distraction.

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~ by Verse on November 9, 2009.

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