I've been wanting to read Adam Rapp's plays for a long time. Everyone-- teachers and fellow actors--keeps telling me how much I would love his writing and subject matter, drawn as I am to the nastier side of human nature (who knows why). His plays most definitely deal with this. Who knows what took me so long?
Red Light Winter
is about two former college friends, Matt and Davis, who go to Amsterdam for a vacation. They seem to be a bit of an odd pair: Davis is harder in a way, and Matt is the one who (we can imagine) would have sat in the dorm room all day with his laptop, either writing brilliant essays or coming up with new computer software; but is not necessarily the happiest of people despite his brains. (We learn, as the play goes on, that Davis is not one of the happiest people either). Of course, while in Amsterdam they decide to go to the Red Light District; and from there, things get rather hairy. Both guys end up sleeping with the same prostitute, a woman named Christina; and what should have been a relatively straightforward encounter becomes a strange love triangle which follows them back to the United States. Once back in America, events turn from strange to tragic when we find out what exactly has gone on in the interval between Acts I and II, and there is no letup until the end. The letup comes when the play is over.
Rapp's writing is beautiful and poetic. He seemed to use only as many words as were absolutely necessary, and this spareness made the subject matter even more gorgeous. He just lets his characters be, and handles them with a very light touch; and the result is a very clear and simply-painted picture that is gorgeous. The story and characters get quietly under readers' skin, so that the play continues to resonate more as you think about it and pops up at odd moments after you're done. I didn't expect it to think about it. I also didn't expect to want to read this play again. I almost feel like I shouldn't want to, but I do; and considering what the it is about, that is certainly saying something.
I refuse to give any spoilers this time. So go read it. You won't be sorry.