The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

As The Ride Down Mt. Morgan opens, Lyman Felt is lying half-conscious in a hospital bed with a leg and an arm in casts. The night before the action begins, Lyman crashed his Porsche while driving down a treacherous stretch of Mount Morgan in the middle of an ice storm in upstate New York. While he has been unconscious, the hospital contacted his family in Manhattan and, as he awakens from what seems to be a dream about his father, he learns that his wife and daughter have just arrived. This does not make him happy; in fact, it seems to terrify him. He cries, “It can’t happen, it mustn’t happen!” He then slips out of the rear of the leg cast and moves across the stage, still in his hospital gown, while the empty cast remains in the bed. As he watches, the setting changes to the hospital waiting room, and he imagines a scene in which his wife, Theo, and his daughter Bessie meet Leah, his second wife, and all of them learn his secret: For the past nine years Lyman has been a bigamist, lying to and betraying everyone who loves him.

Throughout the rest of the play, Lyman moves in and out of the bed, back and forth between past and present, observing and imagining scene after scene—participating in some conversations, overhearing others—as events of his life are reenacted on the stage. Although the play consciously blurs the lines between reality and dream, fact and fantasy, tragedy and farce, the outlines of his story gradually emerge. Lyman is a rich, well-known insurance executive...

(The entire section is 618 words.)