In a clean yet utterly humane line, the frame of discussion is momentarily displaced by David’s introduction to the peice, Colleen’s presentation of Simone Weil’s biography, Gideon’s presentation of Weil’s writings (with regard to the play), and James’ overview of the play itself.
This is a regular feature of Venice Saved, a sketch of seminar prerequisites, “necessary reading” for the coming discussion. Most plays, indeed, most theatre works of any kind, contain some element of exposition, and how this element is handled is perhaps the most agreed-upon metric for evaluating a playwrights “chops” – which is to say, the degree to which the delivery of the outside information necessary to understanding the action (that is, the trick of putting the audience and the characters on the same page) has been made invisible, or at least nearly so.
In Venice Saved, there is scarcely any art to this at all, instead a truckload of facts are boldly, openly, winningly dumped onto the table-tops for all to see and consume. Nowhere here does one actor turn to another and muse aloud, “do you remember that time when the two of us together did that thing I will now describe again, despite the fact that we both know these facts perfectly well?”
At least for this small mercy, we the dramaturgically jaded are grateful.