by Nita Congress · August 17, 2015
“I don’t want to be an artist. I want to be the canvas.”
Those words are spoken by Guthrie Thompson, twenty-one, rich, motherless, alternately high and down. Guthrie and the four friends who join him for the Fourth of July weekend at his grandparents’ beach house—the July House friends—are on the cusp of adulthood, trying to figure out who they are and where they’re headed and what it all means. Big themes indeed. And, in the hands of playwright Pat D. Robinson, exceedingly well articulated and thought provoking.
The friends meet, party, and—at Guthrie’s urging—write letters to their future selves, letters to be opened only when they have died. An intriguing premise, which only hints at the theme at the play’s heart: the role of the past in creating the future. And more specifically: “…what defines our generation more than the generation before us?”
Robinson has much to say, and he says it well, with ringing lines that resonate long after the play has ended: “Let us capture the now and hurl it into the future!” “…how about we let life imitate unfinished art?” “You are the choices you make in life.”
The play covers a lot of ground: identity, memory, art, war, love, loss. It touches on how we help and hurt each other, on the ways in which we try—and often fail—to create meaning and purpose.
This may not be everyone’s idea of how to spend an hour and half in the dark in the summer at FringeNYC. But it is a rewarding experience, because Robinson has hope in and for these young people that they will come out whole, ennobled and enabled by their efforts to see past themselves.