Last night I went and saw the National Theater Live showing of ‘The Deep Blue Sea’ (the National Theater is from England). It was an amazing experience to see live theater filmed so beautifully.
The play takes place in 1952 and opens with the heroine Hester being found in her flat after she tried to commit suicide. Over the course of the play, we see what brought her to that point and how she works through it. And the setting is important because this was post-war early 1950’s England of the stiff upper-lip and keeping up appearances.
But the real thrust of the play is figuring out what you want to do with your life. Hester (the heroine) is a frustrated artist who married a lawyer who became a judge, a rich man obviously. And I think he saw her as a poor trophy wife but I don’t think she turned to her lover Freddie out of boredom but because he made her feel alive. Now she didn’t handle that as well as she could have but at the end of the play I think she realizes that she can stand on her own two feet. And speaking of her lover Freddie, he had to learn how to stand on his own two feet too (he was an RAF pilot during the war but after struggled to figure out what to do his life also). He and Hester do have an unhealthy relationship in that together they find it easier to give in to chemistry and prop each other up rather than face the real problems in both of them.
Yet another thing that I think Hester especially is trying to do is figure out how to live an authentic life, how to be herself. She’s a talented artist but had never pursued it and though her husband doesn’t come off as a total shit-head, I don’t think he was very encouraging, either. There’s this scene with them where he tells her that he’ll take her back if she just forgets the last ten months and she explodes at him. It’s like she knows that she can’t forget what she did and I think that was her big turning point, or as I would put it, her ‘snap’ moment.
And I’m not going to say I relate to Hester completely but I can see where she’s coming from. Personally, I liked her. And I liked Freddie, too. In that time, I think it was a lot harder to stand out on your own because of the roles that people were put into. And I think that’s what I still rebel against to some extent and have all my life. Heck, I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in even as I realize that I probably don’t really fit in anywhere.
But like Hester learns, that’s okay. The world will not end if you don’t fit into some nice, neat little box. You know what I would say to that instead: take those boxes and make your own fort.