Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lover and Beloved

In a romance, you could say, there are the lover and the beloved, the active and the passive parts. The Greeks had two words for these roles, and considered them to be very distinct.

It may be common knowledge, but I learned the following from my friend Mac Rogers, a playwright: that to work, a romantic comedy need not have a particularly filled-in or realistic depiction of the beloved. The beloved can be just plausible enough - but the romantic comedy lives or dies by the portrait of the lover being textured and spot-on. The beloved seems marvelous and perfect; we see the beloved through the eyes of the lover. The lover, really, carries the show.

We were discussing Four Weddings and a Funeral.

left to right: gobs of screentime, extended cameo

I hadn't thought of this conversation since, very likely, 1994. But it came to mind the other day when I happened to see this drawing by Rubens:

The principle is evoked in such simple visual terms here! Rubens has depicted with great sensitivity and detail the posture, the gesture, and the gaze of the lover. And the beloved? She's a shaded profile and part of an outline. Just plausible enough... It was so funny, the evocation of Mac's argument about romantic comedies, I thought I should share it with you.

As long as I'm here, I'd like to recommend Mac's current play, Blast Radius, if you're in New York. It's part two of a trilogy involving insectoid aliens invading Earth, but it works as a free-standing play. You will never see a more harrowing depiction of human resistance to monstrous alien bugs. Mac works regularly with the amazing creative team at Gideon Productions, and this show is highly, highly recommended.

I hope you don't mind my using this space to pimp my friends' plays. Seriously, this show is awesome.

Thank you very much.


  1. Great! Daniel, where is this drawing?

  2. Thanks McG! And, the best I can do is, "Somewhere on Facebook?" Although if I had to take a random guess, I'd say the Albertina Museum, simply because 4 out of 13 Rubens drawings seem to be in the Albertina Museum.