The Closest Thing to a Family Reunion Essay

The Closest Thing to a Family Reunion Essay
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The setting of Heather Rafferty’s play, The Closest Thing to a Family Reunion, is a small church. Billy and Jay are preparing for the funeral of their father, who used to be an atheist. It is quite clear that Billy and Jay’s mother and father were apart. The parent’s separation was the main reason for sister and brother’s living apart and rarely communicating. Moreover, their relatives did not have friendly relationships either. A daughter reveals to her brother that it’s been a long time (around ten years) since she talked with their mother the last time.

The conversation between Billy and Jay gradually grows into a quarrel. They start blaming each other for bad family relationships and lack of mutual understanding between family members. Billy thinks it’s her brother who is to be blamed for the absence of their relatives at her father’s funeral:

No wonder no one’s here. They’re sick of not being able to have a normal conversation with you! (Rafferty 1.41)

Jay, however, fires back his understanding of the problem:

No one’s here because you broke up the family in the first place! Long ago! (Rafferty 1.42)

Family separation is caused by, as Billy puts it, “distance between “IRL and Elf World”. Each one is taking the side of one of the parents. Billy’s trying to defend her mother’s cheating on her father, while Jay is trying to explain that the father was forced to go to Russia and make money for them, his family. Furthermore, upon their father’s arrival home, video games became his obsession and escape from reality.

The climax of the play is punching and almost fighting between siblings. However, they stop where they started because of the priest’s appearance on the stage. Finally, Billy and Jay decide the only good thing they could do in memory of their father is to go to the Everson Woods. They decided to have a funeral without a priest and church because their father was an atheist who liked video games. They are sure he would have loved such an idea.

Even though it sounds sad, but the closest thing to a family reunion is the father’s death. Only at his funeral, the children began communicating with each other and become closer.

  1. A play by Bradley J. Felix titled This is Two, There is No One is set in an apartment living room. Michael has a very interesting occupation, which is writing different types of complaints.

We become witnesses of one more ongoing family conflict. It is Jennifer’s birthday and she is getting prepared for guests’ arrival, while Michael is busy at the laptop. It seems like their quarrel is over the trivia, be it can be felt from their mood that the source of the conflict lies much deeper.

Further, we get to know that it is the tenth anniversary since Michael made a proposal to Jennifer. However, they are together only informally. Trying to make a compliment Michael reveals to Jennifer: “Whenever I look at you, I just can’t help but want to complain” (Felix 1).

Such play of words is symbolic. Jennifer is a muse to Michael, but there is something that he really dislikes about her.

Jennifer’s wish to try to write a complaint to God concerning the imperfectness of His product indicates that she understands quite well that Michael is dissatisfied with her. The conflict is not solved. The audience is left in a musing state or in an anticipation of the next act or scene to satisfy their curiosity. It seems like the play is not finished. At the same time, however, it might be a special technique employed by a playwright. The author also uses the play of words throughout the play. Even the title of the play is dubious. “There is no one” might have two meanings. Either it refers to fact that there are two people, not one person in this story or conflict; or it can have the meaning that there is nobody at the end of the story. I’m still confused about the meaning of the play’s title.

III. One more play under our consideration is Ryan Insenhart’s Hot Blood. The conversation between the two friends, Wesley, and Jackie, who used to be fighters takes place in Wesley’s bar. Jackie tells his friend the story of his last fight with a young man. Finally, Jackie reveals to his friend that they both are hot-blooded and offers him to fight. Jackie is not satisfied with the uncertainty of his status, as they both have even scores in boxing. For Jackie, it is crucial to finally decide who is first and who is second.

Jackie tells Wesley that he needs to constantly prove something to the audience. Even being old his job as a fighter is to fight and he won’t stop, because of his age or anything else. He wants to go away, but he wants to do it with dignity. He believes that before entering Valhalla (the place “where warriors go when they die”) his scars will really be checked. According to Scandinavian mythology Valhalla is located in Asgard and ruled by the god Odin. There are saints in this place who check warriors’ scars.

Having the last scar from a knife is obviously not the right one, not from a fight: “I don’t wanna go to Valhalla with the wrong kind of scars” (Isenhart 1).  An old fighter is a hot-blooded worrier, who can’t even die peacefully, because his calling is fighting or warfare.

A simple conversation reveals the essence or truth of the life of a fighter. Wesley, who probably hasn’t been as famous as Jackie, does understand, however, his friend’s words and mood quite well. Even though Wes demonstrates much more reasonable thinking than Jackie, in his heart Wesley knows what his friend, the fighter, is talking about. Jackie’s words sound like his last wish and Wesley, who probably never has been his best friend, cannot help agreeing to his friend’s strange offer.

Works Cited:

Felix, Bradley J. “This is Two, There is no one.” From Scripts from ATS.

Isenhart, Ryan. “Hot Blood.” From Scripts from ATS.

Rafferty, Heather. “The Closest Thing to a Family Reunion.” From Scripts from ATS.