What are the themes of "Comings and Goings" by Megan Terry?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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This is an interesting question because of the nature of this particular play.  Keep in mind the full title, Comings and Goings:  A Theater Game.  If you read the production notes from the beginning of the work, you will see that this is designed as a teaching tool for actors that provides entertainment at the same time.  Still, if we look simply at the content of the play, the theme is most definitely sexuality.

Comings and Goings:  A Theater Game has a definite theme of sexuality (and specifically as it was tried and tested in the 1960s).  We can see this from the very beginning.

He:  (Alert and Threatening) Touch me.

She:  In a minute.

He:  Now.

She:  In a minute.

Although this can be played in numerous ways by both actors, the theme of sexuality in the action of "touch" is apparent here.  Note another altercation a little bit further on:

She:  You don't give me a moment's peace.

He:  That's all I want from you.  (He pats her fanny.)

Again, suddenly even the idea of giving "a moment's peace" becomes sexual when "he" pats her fanny (which, of course, is an informal term for the buttocks).  "He" even responds further by insisting that he is truly her "dirty old man."  Again, there are sexual overtones there.  A "dirty old man" has nothing to do with physical filth, but has more to do with sexual filth. 

In conclusion, it's important to realize that this play is truly "a theater game" meant to test the abilities of the actors as well as provide entertainment.  The theme of sexuality provides fodder for this teaching activity.

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