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Vanishing Act - Short Play

Vanishing Act

Richard Greenberg

Short Play

5m, 3f

Young Anya's hair must be brushed exactly one hundred times (if it's s…

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Short Play


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Young Anya's hair must be brushed exactly one hundred times (if it's stroked even one hundred and one, she is convinced that she may die). The task falls to her older sister, Minna, who, as she brushes, tells a dark tale of a woman who murdered her neighbor. Meanwhile the other members of the family are engaged in their own pursuits: Their brother, Spence, contemplates suicide; their mother is occupied with various hobbies (including architecture); and their grandfather deliberately feigns decrepitude. When Minna's shiftless fiance, Sky, fails to help her escape the madness which she sees growing in her family, she apparently wills her own death—and is replaced onstage by Carla, the woman who figured in her macabre bedtime story. And Carla, in turn, brushes her own daughter's hair and spins her own tales of evil deeds and gnawing guilt. Moving from a starlit dock to a languid summerhouse, the play captures a sense of consuming ennui and futility; of people whose self-absorption robs their lives of purpose; and, in the end, conveys the simple truth that while individuals may be replaceable (and often slightly ridiculous) the family unit remains—and prevails—and embodies what meaning life can offer.
Successfully produced as part of its One-Act Play Marathon by New York's prestigious Ensemble Studio Theatre, this surrealistic "family album" offers a dreamlike, often comic exploration of the spiritual malaise of the leisure class. Rich in mood and sudden flights of bizarre comedy, the play captures the irony of people too concerned with themselves to realize how pointless they, and their lives, really are. "…a post-Absurdist comedy about a normally insane American family." —NY Times.


5m, 3f

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