By Gregory Kable, dramaturg
Gustave Moreau, Orpheus (1865)
Several of Mitford’s indictments led to industry reforms, although she still found much unchanged in attitudes and practice decades later in a revised edition published posthumously in 1998. Kubler-Ross’ conclusions were both celebrated and consistently challenged by rival perspectives, sparking controversy to the present day. What makes these still valuable touchstones are their shared articulation of a deeper process beneath the rush of concerns and conflicting emotions in confronting and surviving loss. As does Smith’s play, they share a compassionate acknowledgment that in the wake of death we are thrust into passages which both transform and redefine us.
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Just as artists embrace the darkness, and each successive female musician widens the path for those who come after, Smith’s play confirms that mourning can be an experience as marked by dignity as distress. As she reinforces in an interview, “You never know who you are until it’s your tragedy.” Love Alone offers us a collective portrait of individuals simultaneously bound together and pulled apart by a common crisis: their emotional evolutions tracing a syncopated yet similar arc in the direction of that terminal point of the mythic quest: moving through stages, rebuilding relationships, aspiring toward healing, committing to wisdom, and finding a way back into the light.