Two Minutes' Traffic: The Way of the World, Folger Theatre

William Congreve's play The Way of the World showed audiences in the year 1700 a vision of the wealthy upper classes where money, machinations, and loveless affairs lead to a happy ending that feels less about the right two people getting married, as that they were able to get married without losing any of their money. For 2017, Theresa Rebeck has written and directed an adaptation of Congreve, playing at the Folger Theatre as part of the Women's Voices Festival that maintains the nasty underpinnings of Congreve and lavishing the story with the trappings of today's wealthiest 1% in a Hamptons that feels like a nightmare.

Henry (Luigi Sottile), Mae (Eliza Huberth), Reg (Elan Zafir), and Charles (Brandon Espinoza), The Way of the World, 2018. Photo: Teresa Wood.

While there are jokes and a talented cast, Rebeck's play presents exactly the kind of people I don't want to spend time with in 2018.  The play doesn't exactly think these characters deserve our sympathy, but neither do I particularly want to watch them move through life unscathed as entertainment. We exist in a cultural moment of meanness, but it's not one that I have much desire to wallow in just so that it can teach me how people I dislike probably won't ever be happy, either.


Popular Posts