Shortly after my father died, I had lunch with my friend John Yearley and I asked him if he wouldn't mind emailing me a copy of his one-act, HATING BECKETT.
I thought re-reading the play might be comforting because of a vivid memory I'd attached to its premiere many years ago at Long Wharf. I'd brought my parents to the see the play and as the lights came down at the end of it, in that quiet space between END OF PLAY and applause, my father blurted out quite loudly and with a kind of gusto that was emblematic of him, just one word:
This was several years ago. I couldn't remember much about John's play apart from the fact that I, too, had thought it was brilliant.
Early on in the play, after enduring her lover's rant against the torture of what he perceives to be pointless awful theatre, a woman seated in a restaurant suddenly grabs a dinner roll and throws it into his face. He is, of course, taken aback and asks for an explanation. She replies:
The unrepeatable moment.
Then when she tosses a second roll into his face, she explains that that, too, was an unrepeatable moment because of course, having already been hit in the face with one roll, his reaction to the second would be somewhat different than his reaction to the first. (More enraged, perhaps?)
As you might imagine, John's play is about far more than dinner rolls and bad theatre but I won't spoil it by giving it all away.
The play is exactly the kind of thing my father loved. Witty, smart and offering new unexpected insights into human relations -- love, hate, self-loathing, etc. Reading it now, I find myself laughing, then crying, then laughing again. And the play is just about 15 pages long.
John emailed it to me soon after I asked him to (a few weeks ago) and I have read it several times since and each time I read it I find some new detail to cling to as a little window into my father's soul.
And for that I'm so grateful. So, thank you John Yearley, for being such a damned good writer and such a damned good friend.