Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 402
Fefu and her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes is an avant garde, absurdist play, written in the 1970s, at a time when feminism was becoming a stronger force in society. Fornes saw a production of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett and was influenced by the playwright.
It is difficult to accurately summarize the play, both because of the structure of the presentation and the lack of cohesive plot. A group of Fefu's friends arrive at her house at lunchtime to prepare an educational group presentation. Fefu makes sure that she's always the center of attention; she is flamboyant and tends to make outrageous remarks. Julia, one of the women, is in a wheelchair. Though the reason for it is vague, one of the friends named Cindy was present when it happened. She recounts that a hunter shot a deer and at the same time, Julia, who was nearby, fell into convulsions and broke her spine, though the bullet went nowhere near her.
The women gather variously in small groups throughout the play and act in absurd fashion— answering each other with statements that have nothing to do with the questions, standing apart, and reading aloud to themselves. Julia recites a long, dreamlike monologue until interrupted by Sue, who walks in with a bowl of soup.
The staging of the play itself is absurdist, and it brings the audience into the absurdist experience in the second act (Fornes calls them parts) by dividing the audience into four groups. There are four sets all going on simultaneously, but each section of the audience only watches one at a time, then moves on to the next, until all four groups have seen all four sections.
In the third part, a shotgun which has been in plain sight throughout the play goes off, offstage. This could be Fornes making an absurdist comment about Chekov's dictum:
If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.
After the gunshot, Fefu walks in with a dead rabbit that she's shot, which causes Julia to bleed from her head. She may be dying, but we're not exactly sure.
The atmosphere the play creates is one of women who are trapped in some way, either by themselves, their inability to communicate, their secrets, or by forces of which they themselves aren't aware.
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