“‘s not a game’s a plan not like you’d understand. Jerk.”
When I first heard Mouse in a Jar almost a year ago, what struck me was the playwright’s visceral application of language and image like “a scene told in chiaroscuro.” I felt plosives, guttural vowels and words repeated ‘til they were gibberish. And each of these utterances seemed to further my understanding of the complex relationships between the characters. In that initial encounter, I experienced much more through the implicit meaning rather than explicit meaning in the dialogue. I wasn’t surprised then to learn that the playwright, Martyna Majok, is also a poet.
In Mouse, images are fragmented by language and experienced in surprising ways. Soldiers are “boots” or “Men With Boots.” A daughter recalls life before she had a mouth or her eyes had met. “Boots kick out the lights,” she says. Martyna’s sophisticated use of metaphor is as moving as it is unexpected. And these image-fragments accumulate as Mouse bursts with connotative expression.
Her use of repetition strips away explicit meaning until there are only consonants and vowels and the tension between people. In the opening scene, the word ‘peel’ is used six times in six lines, saying more about what the characters are doing to each other, rather than the act of preparing food. The same is true of the word ‘jerk.’ Through brute repetition, words transcend their meanings and become little primal utterances of unmet emotional needs.
There is much to admire in the sheer vitality of Martyna’s language. It is language which demands to be expressed in more than words. I’m very excited to see, that after almost a year, Mouse is finally being realized in a full theatrical production with Red Tape Theatre.
Mouse in a Jar runs October 5-31, 2009.
Tickets are available through our website.