In the play, "Tape" by Jose Rivera, what part of the play marks the beginning of the work's climax?  

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Jose Rivera's two-man play, "Tape," the beginning of the work's climax is found when the Person and the Attendant begin to speak about the tape recorder.

The premise of this short play is that a man, the "Person," has died, though this is not immediately evident. The "Attendant" is someone who is there to act as...

…a little bit of everything. Confidant, confessor, friend, stern taskmaster. Guide.

It is not clear if the place where the Person and the Attendant have met in hell or purgatory; it might be hell, as some sources cite biblical text as referring to more or less "tolerable" damnation. So when the Attendant tells the Person...

We don't want to cause you undue suffering.

…this indicates that there might be suffering, and while not "undue" or unwarranted, it is left to the audience to decide where the Person and the Attendant actually are—what is obvious is that some kind of suffering will take place.

As the play continues, the Person and Attendant speak: the Attendant is ready to answer questions, though at first the Person says he has none. He is frustrated at being dead: he makes mention of this:

There's not much I really have to know is there? Really?

And later, when the Person gets really angry:

Does it matter? Does it really f***ing matter?

Eventually the conversation leads to the tape recorder. When the Attendant asks the Person if he knows how to use one, the Person admits that:

...these things were pretty obsolete by the time I was old enough to afford stereo equipment...

So the Attendant goes about explaining the basics of the reel-to-reel tape recorder. (It would be important to note that these kind of tapes operated very similarly to cassette tapes, but were much larger, perhaps eight to ten inches (or more) across each reel, meaning they ran much longer than a cassette tape that might only last two hours.) The Attendant explains that the Person might want to use the "rewind" button in order to listen to something that might not have recorded so clearly. When the Person asks about a "fast forward" button, this is when the climax of the play begins. (There is also foreshadowing) as well. When we want to skip over a song or programming on a VCR tape or DVD, we use the fast forward feature to speed things along. However, the Person soon learns that he will be listening to ten-thousand boxes of reel-to-reel tapes, containing all the lies he has ever told, and it sounds like that will take a very long time. When the Attendant reveals the ugliness of the task that lies before the Person, the climax of the play takes place: the tapes are a form of punishment; the idea that one cannot fast forward through any of these tapes indicates that there are no shortcuts. The sense of fast-forwarding is not in itself important, but in the context of listening to ten-thousand boxes of tapes, this detail becomes overwhelming, and so this is where the climax begins.


Additional Source:é_Rivera_(playwright)