Plays, of course, are meant to be seen and not read, but it’s not always possible to see every play. They are not complete on the page, certainly in contemporary theatre where plays can be more collaboratively made than ever before. However, it encourages us (and hopefully others) to read more widely. For the third year, here is our #ReadaPlayaWeek initiative. And, as achieved in 2015, we shall try to choose 26 male playwrights and 26 female playwrights for our play choices.
Week 15: Yasmina Reza’s Life X3 (2000)
Evening. A living room.
Two married couples at a dinner party, although the only food Henry and Sonia can offer is Cheez-Its (Wotsits in the London production) and chocolate fingers because the guests, Hubert and Inez, have arrived a day early. Similar to God of Carnage, we see the two couples argue and compete, as they get increasingly drunk. It’s a riotous, farcical power play. Henry is trying to impress Hubert for the chance of a promotion, Inez can’t open her mouth without Hubert putting her down, and Sonia finds her husband pathetic. Soon after arrival, Hubert plunges Henry into disarray by teasing him that his three years of research on the flatness of galaxy halos might be wasted. Meanwhile, Henry’s and Sonia’s crying child relentlessly interrupts the soiree.
Evening. The same room.
The scene is replayed going much the same way but is slightly different, reminiscent of The Mother.
Things fall apart, they get more drunk and argue even more.
Evening. The same situation.
Henry seems more on top of it this time and things end more amicably.
Characters, particularly Henry, can feel euphoric one moment and then melancholic the next in Life x3. They can talk about the mundane including specific and recognisable snack food, from Laughing Cows to chocolate fingers, and then drift into chit chat about those larger things such as the cosmos and the impenetrable and unreachable galaxies. What can they make sense of, and does humankind make any valuable input?
However, I couldn’t help but feel that it was fairly slight, not as meaty or funny as not dissimilar plays such as God of Carnage or Moira Buffini’s Dinner. But I did admire the play’s ability to ask big questions about the significance of human nature whilst keeping as something as menial as a Wotsit at stake.