18 Mar 2013
The theater is an integral part of human life not only because it is one of the traditional forms of art, but also because the theater shows what is hidden within the human soul. Last week I attended a short play “Hughie” by the famous playwright Eugene O'Neill staged by the Shakespeare Theatre Company. The main role was played by an American actor Richard Schiff, known above all for playing Toby Ziegler in the film “The West Wing.” I must admit I did not expect much of the two-character play. It was written by O'Neill in 1942, so I thought that the realism of the era will be irretrievably lost. Besides, due to its small scale I did not expect anything profound to be found in it. However, O'Neill's play turned out to be much deeper than it may have seemed at first glance. It is built almost in the form of a monologue, and the first phrases fully ...view middle of the document...
The leading character, small hustler Erie Smith is exactly such a loner player that looks out for someone who will be able to replace the gone Hughie, a man to support Erie's fantasies and prevent his collision with a miserable self. In the play, a rejection of Puritanism is clearly seen, which, according to O'Neill, transforms its adherents from people to mannequins, providing their faces with the similarity of lifeless masks. Erie Smith seems the only living character in this world, truly living through his personal tragedy, which becomes the tragedy of the world.
O'Neill always creates a tragedy for each of his characters in a special, suitable for only one person scale. Tragedy for Smith is that his individuality must be always supported by someone else. This strong resistance is the way to oppose the standardization of living, feeling and thinking. Thus, in the stereotypical, mechanistic world Erie Smith through his private tragedy claims to be someone different and someone who does not belong here. From time to time, it adds something ridiculous for the search of truth in the play. However, at the end of it, the spectator realizes that the truth in O'Neill's artistic universe is in a personal search for the absolute, no matter where this search finally leads the character, as a result.
When the play was over, I realized that I did not fully understand all the things that the author wanted to say in his play. Perhaps, in order to understand the creation of O'Neill to the end, I should have seen the play more than once. However, I realized the most important thing; through a personal tragedy Erie Smith is trying to resist fate that is enclosed in him, and behind this resistance there is a way to his individuality. The same way, as does the main character in the play “Hughie,” every person should consider one's place and one's representation in this world.
Hammerman, H.J. (2007). Hughie: Robards' Monte Cristo? Laconics. Retrieved from http://www.eoneill.com/library/laconics/2/2b.htm
Theatre Washington. (N.d.). Hughie. Retrieved from http://theatrewashington.org/content/hughie