I saw "Familiar"

What I saw: “Familiar,” at Playwrights Horizons, Main Stage at 416 W 42nd St. in NYC


What I wore: quilted black Barbour parka (for the second time this winter), favorite black Fluevog “Guides,” Wolford fishnet knee-highs that are totally worth the price, the way-too-long black jeans, Lilith silk blouse that is cream with tiny faces on it, and no makeup at all because I ran out of time

What I did beforehand: ate a lobster roll at one of the food vendors at City Kitchen. I had rootbeer

Who went with me: a new friend from the new barn

How I got tickets: online, full price (and my friend reimbursed me, so now I have a coat-pocket full of cash, woo hoo)

Why I saw this show: to the extent that a living playwright can, Danai Gurira has captured people’s attention;  I got this text from a friend who saw an interview with her and she was all, “You should see her plays,” and I’m like, yeah, ok. Also, I was looking for something family-dram-comedy but not too dysfunctional-family-ish to see with a new friend that might not appreciate, say, blood explosions or plays about rape victims.

Where I sat: Row E, seat 14, between my friend and a pair of ladies of a certain age who howled and laughed at all the same things as me

What it is: a funny drama, set in a midwestern American home, by Danai Gurira, performed in two acts, with one 15 minute intermission. The multi-racial cast of eight was the first cast that seemed to me to have the perfect actor in each role. 

Things that were sad: remembering my own wedding dramas insofar as they resembled the ones portrayed

Things that were funny: the play has a lot of laughs built in

Things that were not funny: I was promised, by a guy seated behind me at “American Psycho,” that “Eclipsed” was the better and more important of Danai Gurira’s plays in production right now. I disagree. He did, however, tell me I had excellent taste in plays when I told him “Hungry” was the best play I’d seen this spring.

Who should see it: fans of Danai Gurira, people from Minnesota, artists who feel their families don’t understand them, anyone with a sister who has unexpectedly embraced Christianity, people from Zimbabwe, people who have relatives in other countries

What I saw on the way home: garbage

A letter to the mouse that died in my kitchen last night

Dear Mouse,
You’ve probably been living in the basement your whole life, and today wasn’t even too cold. The cat, Schwartz, was feeling lively and caught you. I didn’t even know about you until I heard your peeps and squeaks by the back door.  Were you injured at that point, or just protesting?
Anyway, my first error was calling the dogs. It was an impulse. They found you with Schwartz and started the mad chase into the bathroom and around the toilet. That was me, the one screaming. Why I screamed I can’t say. I had pet rodents as a kid: mice, a hamster, a gerbil, a rat. I picked them up and carried them around. They were my pets. Sometimes they got loose and I had to catch them and put them back. I didn’t scream then. I must have been a better person then, somehow. Well, it wasn’t a little screaming. Sorry about the screaming.
Captain was the next one to pick you up and carry you around. He was the one who got you wet, I think. But when I shouted at him he dropped you and then Cherry snatched you up. She isn’t the quickest dog in the house, owing to her age, but tonight she was the deadliest.
You died quickly, mouse, and Cherry guarded you for a long time. She was very proud of what she’d done, and wouldn’t let anyone look at you or smell you or take you. She didn’t seem interested in eating you, which I would have let her do as the one who did the deed. Somehow, to my mind that seemed fair. Cherry appeared a little confused by the situation. Instinct ruled when she caught you and when she dispatched you, but after that she wasn’t sure. She growled at Schwartz, even, and she never growls at Schwartz.
There was no question of burying you since it’s nothing but ice outside right now. Maybe we could have left you out for the coyotes or the foxes, but where should one leave such an offering? Alas, you went into the trash.
You left a family behind, I’m sure. Schwartz is down there waiting for the next one of you. This is how it is with cats and mice. He keeps his cool, crouching quietly behind the boxes. He knows your habits, and makes a plan. Y’all don’t live very long, do you, mice? Between the hardships of weather and finding food, and then the cat or the foxes and hawks outside, life for you must be harsh and brief. I haven’t had it easy lately either, what with all the injustice in the world.  But I have a warm house, and food, and with any luck I shouldn’t have to watch predators capture and eat my children.

Did you leave behind hopes and dreams, unfulfilled? Will your family sigh over your promises unkept? Are they dividing your possessions as I write this, or do they not yet know? Will they be left wondering whatever happened to you? Maybe they heard the screams. I’m still sorry about the screams.

Vizsla, with mouse