The Revisionist: Thoughts on Family & Isolation

Last Thursday I saw The Revisionist, a play written by Jesse Eisenberg, who also starred along with the unquestionably magnificent Vanessa Redgrave, and directed by Kip Fagan at the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village. Not knowing what to expect, I was blown away for two heart wrenching hours that also had me laughing out loud more than I ever had at a play.

The Revisionist only runs until March 31st, so if you have a chance, see it. There were many standout elements, but what I can’t stop thinking about is the idea of family and isolation. The idea of “family” is questioned midway through the play on how important “one’s blood” is and Redgrave’s character, Maria, who is a Holocaust victim, says that blood is everything. She also scolds Jesse’s character, David, when he says he last saw his grandfather months ago since if she had family within the same city, she “would see them every day.” Because Maria lives in Poland, she has met very few of her family members in the United States. David rarely sees his family while in the States and when visiting Maria, insist on spending most of his time alone in his room.

I have been having a difficult year in terms of my family. My remaining grandfather was severely ill last year and lives in a remote mountain town in the western part of South Dakota. My main communication with him the past few years have been through letters that keep getting shorter, few and far between. My niece was born last July. I have seen her twice in real life. For me, she exists through Instagram photos and Google Hangouts. It’s not the same as holding her, the vulnerable and precious vessel she is. There is a moment in The Revisionist when Maria surprises David by wrapping her arms around him, her face showing comfort and peace all at once. I couldn’t help but think that’s what my own face looks like when holding Marleigh, or any loved one.

I’m a champion of social media and digital technology for reasons other than the fact it’s my livelihood. I do believe both have helped to bridge communication and make our world not seem so small. However, there are some times of isolation that can’t be solved through a text or Facebook update: isolation from loved ones that is a result of distance and time.

I want to start seeing more plays, but I’m worried I’m going to get much more melancholy than normal.

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