David Mamet is one of the most celebrated American playwrights of the twentieth century. Mamet, who has won numerous prestigious awards for his plays, is best known for his use of dialogue that captures the rhythms and idiom of colloquial American speech and powerfully expresses the struggles of his characters to express themselves to one another.
Reunion is a one-act play that dramatizes bits and pieces of one long conversation between Carol, a twenty-four-year old woman, and her father, Bernie, whom she hasn’t seen since her parents divorced twenty years earlier. Bernie is a recovering alcoholic and has spent much of his life intoxicated, traveling around, and moving from job to job. Carol tells Bernie that she has contacted him because, although she is married, she is lonely. Father and daughter try to reestablish a relationship with one another by asking each other questions and attempting to explain their lives.
In Reunion, Mamet explores the delicate dynamics of communication between a parent and child who have been separated by divorce. The struggle to establish a genuine sense of connection between two family members is poignantly rendered through Mamet’s characteristic skill at creating dialogue that expresses the difficult, sometimes painful, often unsuccessful, efforts of human beings to communicate with one another.
Reunion takes place in the apartment of fifty-threeyear- old Bernie Cary. Carol Mindler, Bernie’s twenty- four-year-old daughter, has come to visit him. She hasn’t seen her father in twenty years, since he and her mother divorced. The play takes place in a series of fourteen short scenes, each of which represents a segment of one long conversation between father and daughter.
As the play opens, Carol has just arrived at Bernie’s apartment on a Sunday afternoon in early March. Bernie comments, ‘‘This is a very important moment.’’ He’s relieved that she calls him Bernie, rather than ‘‘Dad.’’ He explains that he has quit drinking and has been doing better lately than he had been in the past.
Carol tells Bernie his apartment looks nice, and he explains that he’s been living there two years. Carol tells him the apartment she lives in with her husband, Gerry, is very nice and comfortable, although it gets a little cramped when Gerry’s two sons (from a previous marriage) are staying there.
Carol sees a picture of Bernie with a group of Army Air Corps bombers and asks him about his military duty in World War II. He explains that he was a tail gunner in a B-17. Carol tells Bernie she wants to know more about him. He describes himself as: ‘‘Fifty-three years old. Ex-alcoholic. Exthis. Ex-that. Democrat.’’ Bernie asks Carol a little about her husband Gerry, and her marriage. Bernie explains to Carol that he had wanted to see her again after he and her mother were separated, but that her mother had initiated a court order in 1951, forbidding him from seeing his daughter. Carol tells Bernie she has been married to Gerry for two years, and that his sons are eight and twelve years old. Bernie tells Carol he almost burst into tears when Gerry showed up at the restaurant where he works to say Carol wanted to see him.
Bernie tells Carol she has a half-brother, Marty, who is three years younger than she, from his second marriage to a woman named Ruth. Bernie hasn’t heard from Marty in several years, but says that, last he heard, Marty wasn’t doing anything with his life. Carol also has a half-sister, Barbara, from her mother’s second marriage. Bernie reminisces about the last year he saw Carol, when she was four years old, and he used to take her to the zoo and to the science museum. He tells Carol, ‘‘You were a beautiful kid.’’ Bernie says he has some pictures of Carol from that time, which he looks at every day, but then he is unable to find them to show her. He mentions that he’s thinking of marrying a woman named Leslie, whom he works with at the...
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