(Host) Mid-life angst is the subject of Patient Minotaur, a comic drama written by Montpelier playwright Peter Lind.
VPR’s Neal Charnoff goes backstage with ‘Patient Minataur.’
(Charnoff) The play won the 2004 Vermont Contemporary Playwrights award, and is currently being staged in Waterbury. One cast member calls Patient Minotaur “A coming of age play for a middle-aged man.”
The forty-something Henry must confront the demons that have kept him from experiencing satisfaction in his life. But he is constantly doing battle with his Patient Minotaur. The minotaur began as Henry’s childhood imaginary friend, and has grown into his nagging alter ego.
The play is structured like a jigsaw puzzle, weaving in and out of different periods in Henry’s life.
Henry is played by Eric Ronis of Warren. In this scene, he’s with Lisa, his high school sweetheart, played by Emily Lee of Burlington. Lisa will eventually leave him behind as she travels and experiences the world. But here, they are still under the spell of teenage love.
(Henry) Lisa, I knew you’d come.
(Lisa) I want to be with you.
(Henry) Me too. Hey. I had this great dream last night.
(Lisa) Yeah? What were we doing?
(Henry) We were together in this weird tunnel
(Lisa) I know what’s on your mind.
(Henry) Yeah, that. And there was this minotaur. (Lisa) A minotaur?
(Henry) You know that half-man, half-bull, like the myth in ancient Crete?
(Lisa) The one with Theseus. I remember.
(Henry) And we were down in the labyrinth. And it was dark and cold. The minotaur was chasing us, but I wasn’t scared.
(Lisa) Because we were together, for always. (Henry) Because I had you. And we fit together perfectly, tightly like no other. Tongue in groove, so to speak. And that’s called I didn’t know what that was called. But I knew what it felt like. It was so good when everything worked out. I’d take a lifetime of that.”
(Charnoff) Playwright Peter Lind was inspired to write Patient Minotaur after seeing a news story in which several men were trapped in a well. In the play, the well is metaphorical, a mental obstacle which prevents Henry from appreciating his life and the people who love him. Lind says the title of the play comes from a poem Henry has been working on for much of his life.
(Lind) “He’s writing it because the minotaur is his demon who is down there in the well with him. He’s trapped with that minotaur and that’s the demon he must confront in order to move on in his life.”
(Charnoff) Nessa Rabin of Marshfield plays the Minotaur.
(Rabin) “If you’ve ever been depressed you know there’s a voice in the back of your head dictating what you do. I am that voice.”
(Charnoff) In this scene, Henry confronts his minotaur, knowing that she is preventing him from moving on with his life. The scene is choreographed as a tango.
(Min) You’re doing a good thing, you know.
(Henry) You don’t think?
(Min) No. Sacrificing yourself for others – quite admirable.
(Henry) You really think so?
(Min) Oh yes. Noble.
(Henry) Hey. Show me the way out.
(Min) What makes you so sure I know?
(Henry) You know the way in. So you must remember the way out.
(Min) An exit.
(Min) Oh Henry.
(Henry) I didn’t want to before, but now
(Min) You’d miss me.
(Henry) I want to see what’s out there.
(Min) You’re not ready yet.
(Henry) Yes I am.
(Min) Ready to step up?
(Min) Do what it takes?
(Min) Then there’s only one way. You must oh God, accept yourself for who you are, and then there’s this one little thing, you see, then, you must kill me.
(Henry) Ki, ki ki kill you? You’re crazy.
(Min) Kill or be killed
(Henry) I don’t know you.
(Min) You know who I am. You’ve always known. I’m your minotaur.
(Henry) Not my minotaur.
(Min) Patient, one and the same.
(Charnoff) Peter Lind started writing Patient Minotaur five years ago, and received a Flynnspace grant for a workshop production. That production led to the Vermont Contemporary Playwright’s Award, which opened the door to the current production.
Monica Callan of Waterbury is directing Patient Minotaur. Callan says the Contemporary Playwright’s Forum is necessary to keep Vermont theater fresh and forward-looking.
(Callan) “This whole initiative is about developing a new voice in American theater. The whole thing is about getting new work done in America. We have too many ‘Music Man’s’ going up. We have too many ‘Oklahomas’, and it’s the same stories, and there’s nothing wrong with those stories, but those stories are fifty years old. So part of the mission of this project is to hear the voice of today.”
(Charnoff) For his part, Peter Lind says it’s a thrill to see his words come alive onstage.
For VPR Backstage, I’m Neal Charnoff.
Note: Patient Minotaur will be performed at Harwood Union High School in South Duxbury through July 3rd.