Ben Ellis’s Post Felicity is an absurdist drama about ageing yuppies, capitalism, consumerism and death. It’s witty and spiteful but left me cold.
The play begins with Mr James at the hospital hearing that his daughter, Felicity, is dead and the police suspect suicide. His response?
JAMES: Builds the economy up. A bit of unexpected employment here and there. A couple of blokes digging holes. It’s sort of good. A cosmic financial cycle … Death can help people make a living.
In the next scene, Mr James is at the office with his idiot of a boss, Aarons. Aarons is unhappy about James’s lack of focus since the death.
AARONS: How long has it been now? Two days. Get over it. Two days. There’s only so much grief I can take in this office.
James is focused on the note that Felicity might have left. The doctor mentioned that the police were looking to see if there was one and he’s now obsessing over it as an explanation for what happened. His wife, Madeleine is singularly unconcerned about her daughter’s death. So unconcerned that she forgets about it straight after being told. Each time James mentions it to her she reacts as if hearing it for the first time.
JAMES: Are we still classified as parents now?
JAMES: For taxation purposes. These things can get tricky.
MADELEINE: What’s our daughter going off and killing herself got to do with us being parents?
JAMES: Well, she’s gone and killed herself.
MADELEINE: You didn’t tell me that. […] I don’t remember you telling me about anything.
JAMES: She suicided.
MADELEINE: She was young, wasn’t she?
Aarons comes to their home for dinner and decides to write the suicide note for them. There follows an incredibly bizarre scene where they all brainstorm ideas for the note.
AARONS: I can’t get this last bit right. How do you tie up all the loose ends, put them together and make it coherent? It’s maddening!
JAMES: It’s a suicide letter. It doesn’t have to be that coherent.
AARONS: What about cogency?
JAMES: There’s no need for cogency. There’s no coming back from a successful suicide note. There’s no more argument. It’s not part of a two-sided debate. It’s not a departmental decree that has to be justified. It’s a real human being signing off from the human race. It can be as full of mistakes as the poor, miserable life that preceded it.
If Felicity isn’t a person, but is the definition of the word (ie happiness) then this is a play about what happens post happiness. When happiness is gone and life sinks into a meaningless routine. Do you, as James does, remember your youth and the experience of joy, or do you fall into despair at its passing?
Publisher: Currency Press (published alongside Svetlana in Slingbacks)
Cast: 2M, 1F