As I may have mentioned here before, I tend to read most of my reviews because a.) GOSH, I LOVE PAIN and b.) I truly feel like I can learn from them, if I read them with one eye open (keeping the other eye that scans every moment and room I’m in for reasons to doubt myself carefully closed.) I happened upon this review of the Chicago production of the Cake the other day, and for reasons I decided NOT to unpack in a middle of the night email to the critic, it upset me deeply. I let it go for a few days, then yesterday, decided to revisit it, because again, I LOVE PAIN and also because with the initial sting having settled, I wanted to see what I could learn, as I’m still tweaking the play. And lo and behold, an angel woman named Andrea G. had left this beautifully articulated comment on the review (my favorite parts in bold):
You are missing the point. Hear me out. There it was- my life on the stage. That NEVER happens. The real side of being a gay woman. Finally something REAL. You still have to love your family. You still have to reach across the table. Because we still need to live in our current lives. Della is lovable because most of the time your family member is lovable. I have a ton of Dellas in my live. And I wish I could be braver like Jen and work through them all. But you choose those like Della who really love you and you work it through. So you both grow. And it HURTS. Are you not gay? Or are you not a woman? Because that is the way women deal with things. Slowly and painfully. I’ll give this, then you give that, slowly. If you are really really lucky it ends well. I am still bruised as I am sure every lesbian who left the theater. You say it is intellectually and emotionally unnutritious. That is INSANE. This is family not the government or your job. You have to give people time to change, reevaluate and change some more. Dissuading others from seeing it because it doesn’t fit into the cookie cutter liberal “should,” is keeping people from actually seeing their lives in art. Not a fantasy of how life should be, but how it is. Because the play you are asking for wouldn’t hit home for me. It is a fantasy for me- where I sit down with my aunt and have a conversation about identities It wouldn’t be emotional because it would never happen. Because that is what your said privileged people do- conversations about identities. Not us poor blue collar folks. And your attitude towards Della is elitist and condescending. Yes she is a bigot. But your (and Macy’s attitude) is not so nice either.
ANDREA G., you are why I write plays. Thank you for speaking for me, with me.