Melissa Leilani Larson's Mountain Law


(Historical note: This is my first time trying out Blogger's new visual composer rather than staring at code. The new code-based composer has also been modernized, but all the colors and noise have come to feel cluttered and exhausting, ergo this historical note. In order to get things to work properly, I had to switch over to the code || times.)


Putting on remote plays during pandemic is something I keep hearing about, but when, arguably, the major value plays have over, say, movies, is that the audience engages quite literally with the performers, each party effecting changes to the other's experience, as it is unfolding, for a total of nine commas.

The play feels more like it makes a trilogy with the contemporary plays collected in Third Wheel than her other historical plays---not just because of the Mormon setting but also because of its direct grappling with sexual politics through a protagonist that, by virtue of dominoes set up by others, is only offered options subideal.

The primary setting is a (I believe) fictional location in Utah (if it is real, it doesn't have a Wikipedia page, so QED) where Tamson has been abandoned by her husband, a confidant of Brigham Young's. He has been sent to California to help the Brooklyn and Battalion saints laboring in the goldfields come to Utah. He is gone three years and in that time, Tamson and her children, all young, nearly starve. They only survive thanks to the miraculous arrival of an old lover. Which gets us to the secondary setting, Nauvoo, where we experience and reexperience Tamson and her secondary man's original meetings facet by facet.

Her loneliness makes the Zoom setting of the play here in 2020 wholly appropriate. All the characters are trapped in individual boxes: no matter how intimate, never touching.

That said, Mountain Law will be even better on stage, with the audience present and the characters moving rather than having their actions narrated as they glance to difference corners of the screen. (This is not a knock---the cast did great work---just recognition.)

Anyway. Happy isolation, everybody!

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