Hats and Birds

I didn’t understand Far Away. In fact, I felt lost, slightly upheaved and tossed about as I was reading this. Was that Caryl Churchill’s point when writing this? I did notice a common theme when it came to birds and hats. Since we just talked about the importance of hats and the presence of birds in Homebody/Kabul, I wonder if I only noticed this because that play was still fresh on my mind. However, the prominence is still too large to ignore.

Melissa Johnson and Steven Alford appear in “Far Away.” Photo courtesy of Jose Bustamante

With each day, the hats that Joan and Todd were making got bigger and more preposterous. We learn that they only end up going in the fire to burn “with the bodies” (of which I am assuming are the bodies of prisoners because they were mentioned in the parade). But why is there a parade of prisoners? What does this signify? The symbolism of hats in the play seemed to bring up more questions than answers for me, which not only caused confusion but irritation. I wish I understood better their significance. Also, who was Joan’s uncle, and why was he beating children with a tire iron? The aunt’s narration seemed unreliable to me, so I have a hard time believe her dialogue when she tells Joan that her uncle is trying to help the children. The play itself seemed disjointed, especially when I was jolted into some world-war between countries and animals. “When you’ve just stepped in you can’t tell what’s going to happen. The water laps around your ankles in any case” (Churchill 38). Ending the play with these two sentences left me unsatisfied and longing for a more solid wrap up with the characters. What was Joan running from? Why was she not allowed to see her husband? Why was her aunt so paranoid, and where was her uncle? What kind of war were they fighting? There was too little in the 38 pages of the play to bring about any kind of satisfaction for the reader.

 

Churchill, Caryl. Far Away. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2001. Print.

Kushner, Tony. Homebody/Kabul. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2002. Print.

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