Today we turn back to one of the plays that was on our Greatest American Plays list back in August. Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind is a masterwork that focuses on the American family. While it does not, by any stretch of the imagination, provide us with a depiction of a healthy family or even a realistic world, what it does show us is that family ties are strong enough to overcome the worst.
In this play, Shepard addresses issues of violence, neglect, alcoholism, divorce, and loneliness in a way that moves from funny, to very disturbing, to strangely comforting. Once we've heard the stories of all the characters, I don't know that many of us can say that we feel anything has resolved in their lives, but we can understand that they are going to be ok. Long periods of pain and sadness can be cured by taking stock in one another.
Sherpard does very little to say what he thinks of the outrageous and sometimes despicable actions of the characters, but he does allow us to find a redeeming nugget of goodness in each. In the end, we see the characters who do not understand forgiveness as the ones who are truly lost.
Happy Birthday (November 8): Peter Weiss (1916-1982)
Happy Birthday (November 9): Hugh Leonard (b. 1926)