'The Cocktail Party'
by T.S. Eliot
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Edward Chamberlayne learns his wife of five years, Lavinia, has left him. Edward is left alone to host a cocktail party for all his closest and important friends. And in a 1950’s socialite ravaged London; it’s everyone’s business.
It begins at the tail end of the party, where his friends come and go, offering their opinion about Edward’s predicament. An unidentified guest offers him astute advice on how to bring back Lavinia. A day passes, and everyone is summoned to the Chamberlayne’s for the return of Lavinia.
Once alone, the couple admit their existence together is turning to rubble. They visit a renowned psychiatrist who not only treats the couple, but mysteriously their friends as well. Two years pass and we return to another cocktail party; Edward and Lavinia are nervous to face the music of entertaining their guests and entertaining the thought of happiness within a loveless marriage.
The Cocktail Party isn’t any ordinary British drawing room ‘Comedy of Manners’; it is a fevered dream of T.S Eliot’s to honestly and unapologetically dismantle perceptions of desire, happiness and damnation through challenging the human psyche.
What I wish to focus on this production is the unbalanced realities that exist within the story; that is dissect the surreal moments as opportunities to explore this ‘fevered dream’ in which all the characters seemingly are wandering in. This play seems to me as a vehicle driving through an intellectually surreal playground, and the driver is never the same; the play has multiple characters who all suffer from the same struggles as Edward and Lavinia. The comedy and poetic wit within the play should be honed and foster a background playfulness that brings senses of irony and sarcasm identifiable to modern audiences.