With annoying regularity, I’ll write a review that goes online or into print, and I’ll think, “Damn! I wish I’d analyzed that more perceptively” That happened recently with my review of Susinn McFarlen’s Since You Left Us.
In my review of McFarlen’s comedy, which is currently playing at Presentation House, my central thesis is that plot arrives in Act 2 and saves the day. I don’t think that’s quite accurate. I now think that more focused action arrives and makes the play more satisfying. But more focused action isn’t quite the same as plot. Despite the improved focus, the essential problem with the plot remains: the protagonist is passive and her sister, a secondary character, largely takes over.
Relatively inexperienced writers often create passive protagonists; writers are observers after all and, especially in earlier plays, protagonists are often semi-autobiographical.
I can’t imagine that very many people care about the finer points of this argument, except for me :-). And Since You Left Us is still very funny. The performers—especially Jillian Fargey and Colleen Wheeler—are hilarious. And Act 2 is much better than Act 1. I just didn’t quite understand why.