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Dear Brutus

By James Matthew Barrie


Title:     Dear Brutus
Author: James Matthew Barrie

Table of Content

1. ACT I

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Name: Bill Grossman _____ [Date: 7/08/05]

Review/comment: After seeing the show at the Westport Country Playhouse, I was extremely disappointed. Perhaps, it was because the theme was outdated: What would have happened had we chosen another career path? Today, we are in a world where people change their career paths four to seven times in a lifetime. No longer does someone get a job at the Bank after graduating college, and stay there for forty years. Companies are bought and sold. Technology often demands that we learn new skills to adjust ourselves to the new economy. This change is not reflected in the Barrie play. I might add, that most people who change paths, do it because they are compelled to do it. Society says' Take a chance. It's not better, it's very different. So for the audience, most of whom were older the play was a puzzle with no solution.

Name: Rick Wilson _____ [Date: 4/19/06]
Title: We Essentially Do Not Change

Review/comment: I thoroughly disagree with Mr. Grossman's assessment of "Dear Brutus." I, too, saw that Westport Country Playhouse production, and, apparently, saw a different play than Mr. Grossman. The play is not about whether or not one changes jobs, but, is, rather, an argument that we are, essentially, the same, whether or not we are ever able to reach to the past to retrieve a REGRET. Only ONE of the characters (Matey, the butler) changes his job (and consequently his status in nineteenth century British society); however, the play shows that he would STILL be the same, shallow theif regardless of his status; as a butler, he pilfers on a smallish scale; as a top businessman of England, he steals on a scale which would impress even the executives of America's top corporate giants today. The play, rather, puts forward an idea which is quite counter to one of America's great myths that we, as human beings, have the power to change. Instead, the play allows characters an imaginative journey of reaching into their past to recover a deeply held regret, something so important they believe it would have truly altered the course of their lives. For the most part, J.M. Barrie clearly believes we would not change, at all, in the essentials. A man who cheats on his wife will still be a man who cheats on his wife, regardless of whom that wife may be. A woman who chooses the wrong man will still be a woman who chooses the wrong man, regardless of an attempt to do it over. The only variation from this theme is Mr. Dearth, an alcoholic and washed up artist, who reaches to his past so that he might have a child. And so he does. And, although he is a single parent (and there is no hint of what happened to his "imaginary" spouse), Barrie creates redemption for this character in what is apparently the most pure of the characters' wishes. Dearth is given his child, and she, apparently, saves him from a life of alcoholism. That's quite a responsibility for a child and quite a romantic notion of Barrie's, I should think, that a child has the power to make an adult whole from disease. This is, though, a play, and we look to our fiction for redemption from the realities of our lives. In the real world outside the theatre, Barrie would probably agree that an alocoholic would struggle against alcoholism regardless of his or her life circumstances. "Dear Brutus" is NOT a play about how lives would be different if we could change jobs. It is a play about what could happen if we were given the magical chance of recovering something from our pasts, and the exploration of change, if any, which that recovery might or might not bring. In short, Barrie suggests that we should quit whining about what "might have been." We are who are in the absolute present of our lives, and the integrity and value of our life's worth is played minute by minute in all that we do and is NOT the sum total of our jobs and lost opportunities. According to Barrie, we should shut up and live. Although it's nice to think we have jobs we can quickly change in the world we now live in, I suspect Barrie would concur that we're still the same old jerks or nice fellas wherever we go and whatever we do.

Name: Jay Jeffries _____ [Date: 4/22/06]

Review/comment: I have no idea what made me wake up today and search for "Dear Brutus," but I was happy to see the complete text here and reacquaint myself with it. I remember seeing a production of the play on television many years ago. I believe this was pre-PBS. There was a channel that broadcast a different play every week which was repeated each night of that week. I thought the play quite enchanting at the time and remembered the "might-have-beens," although it seems rather dated now in tone. It's sort of a drawing room comedy fancifully mixed with a heavy dose of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Interesting concept. I agree with Mr. Wilson, it's not about changing careers; it suggests that our characters are set quite early in life and, if we had a chance to go back and change the course of our lives, we would not change the nature of our character. I wonder if any of the kinescopes remain of that production I saw, I'd love to see it again.

Name: _____ [Date: 4/20/07]

Review/comment: As a student involved in Rick Wilson's production, and now writing a paper about this play for a course, I can honestly say that the main issue is that much of the written text doesn't really come out in performance. One never really gets a feel for any of the characters unless one is actually in the production. Unlike other comparable shows of the era, such as Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest", or earlier works such as William Wycherly's "The Country Wife", "Dear Brutus" has the makings of an excellent novel, but falls short of becoming a spectacular play.