Sarah Ruhl’s Woolfian Essay-Play vs. the Play of Ideas: Let’s Talk About How to Transcend a Happy Marriage
Sarah Ruhl, Virginia Woolf, Ovidian, play of ideas, essay-play
Sarah Ruhl's How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, an inquisitive comedy about polyamory, communion, and our animal nature, was criticized for its plot-light, meandering form that juggled ideas without bringing them to conclusion. In this article I argue that Ruhl has created an innovative hybrid form-a Woolfian "essay-play"-in which plot and argument are secondary to wandering, wondering, and idea-inebriated pleasure. In contrast to the traditional play of ideas, the essay-play invites the audience into the process of thinking rather than presenting them with finished thoughts; its essayistic aesthetic is also an ethic, one that leaves breathing room for the audience.
Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism