play six: homebody/kabul

Afghanistan

Author: Tony Kushner

Published: 2002

Synopsis: I’ve struggled to wrestle this play into a fistful of lines and so give you Nancy Franklin’s take on it in her New Yorker article ‘Afghan Tales.’

What moved me: The Homebody holding the shopkeeper’s “ruined right hand.” The stage direction “So late at night it’s nearly dawn, but the sky is still black and wild with fierce stars.” The idea that all graves are empty, holding nothing but dust.

What I loved most was the messy cowardice of Milton Ceiling. Husband of The Homebody, he is dragged to Afghanistan by Priscilla (his daughter) to find his wife. He doesn’t want to find her though and he never leaves his hotel room. He is not brave and seems to dislike his offspring intensely. On an opium high he says:

“She’s a born digger, she was born with a spade in her hands. The little ghoul. Prowling the streets for her mother’s cadaver to drag home in her teeth, needing to see it, I suppose, see the underside of her own mother’s ribcage. […] (He starts to cry) My wife has died, horribly died, and I shall be alone with her when we are home and she with me, and I am all she has left, and we are neither of us what anyone wants.”

You can see that this dislike does not mean he does not love.

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