They’ve known each other for 37 years. He was 31 when they met. She is 5-6 years younger than he is, so she was mid-20s at their meeting.
Bea married at 19, so she was married the day she walked into the office and met “the most beautiful, scared young man I had ever seen”. Jorgy tells a story about his deceased wife, and given the times, it is likely that he was also married when he met Bea. It also seems clear that they remained in their marriages until their spouses died. Jorgy’s wife died 13 years ago, at which time, says Bea’s daughter, Kate, “you almost moved in.”
Those are four very loaded words. They hide more than they reveal, which is the mark of good writing. The playwright provides no definitive answers to the nature of Jorgy and Bea’s relationship, which leaves it up to the actors to choose their own “answers”. However, it is almost more important to ask questions than it is to “decide” anything. Decisions can be so limiting, and people are rarely so one-dimensional as the characters decisions we are inclined to make. Asking questions allows our subconscious to do clever things with the input.
So what questions should we be asking?
When Jorgy’s wife, Fay, died, who brought up the idea of Bea moving in, Jorgy or Bea? What was that conversation like? How soon did it happen after the funeral?
Bea talks about living a life full of “rumors and gossip and sideways glances”; how much of her relationship with Jorgy was guessed at, and how much was actually known by others in the town? When Kate says Bea almost moved in with Jorgy, how does she know that? Kate was out of college at the time and probably no longer living in Rhode Island; did Bea discuss it with her on the phone? Did Kate’s father tell her about it? Or did she just hear the rumors?
As for the rumors, how did they start? What did Bea and Jorgy do that made the rumors start? How did they fuel them over the years? And why were they simply rumors, gossip, and sideways glances? Because there is nothing in the dialogue that indicates that there was anything more than that – that Bea and Jorgy were enjoying a little afternoon delight in a hotel in a neighboring town, or going off on weekends together, or that Bea was spending the night at Jorgy’s after Fay died but before Bea’s husband did.
Which raises another question: Bea and Jorgy love each other – they frankly acknowledge that. But was that love ever consummated, and if it was, when? In their early days together? A decade later, when both were still married? Perhaps not until after Fay died? Or after Bea’s husband died? Or perhaps never at all?
Next time, I’ll walk you through where these questions lead me.