In the summer of 2012, I threw the best birthday party ever when I bribed all my friends with pizza and cake in order to get them to watch a Sondheim double feature. First, we watched Company, Sondheim’s concept musical about marriage, and then we saw Passion, which has a linear narrative but still manages to be a lot more disorienting. And then we had an argument.
Since Company was, at the time of writing, available on Netflix instant play, I invited blog readers to watch along and contribute posts on the themes of love and marriage. The discussion is aggregated below, and included tangents and reference to: what’s wrong with romantic comedies, theories of epistemology, 1984, C.S. Lewis, Les Mis, and plenty of others.
- “Maybe we just weren’t meant to have children” - A guest post by Gilbert of The Last Conformer on the surprising absence of children in a show about marriage
- Ending with a clinch, not a child – Riffing off of Gilbert’s post and complaining about the childish catharsis of most romantic comedies
- “Bobby you’ve been looking peculiar” – The lead of Company‘s epistemology is a sort of optimistic fatalism
- “It’s not so hard to be married, I’ve done it three or four times” – A guest post from my college friend Katharine, who draws on her experience acting some of Shakespeare’s married women to talk about marriage
- “What do you wanna [stay single] for?” – Christian H of The Thinking Ground guest posts to tell us that Company doesn’t show us what marriage is, but makes a convincing case for the leap
- Weakness as Strength – In which I hijack a book review to talk about vulnerability and service as courtship
- “Careful the wish you make, wishes come true. Not free.” - And we’re transitioning over to Passion, which I argue shows us the fulfillment of Bobby’s epiphany at the end of Company, and man oh man does giving oneself over to love turn out to be frightening.
- “Nobody human can stand all that everlasting affection!” – The love story in Passion reminds me of undeserved grace. But also of the torture scene in 1984.
- Teaching Fish the Word for Water – The finale, in which it turns out to be easiest to see Truth through the lens of the grotesque
Thanks to all the guest posters who pitched in and the commenters who watched along. After all, it’s the little things you do together…