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[personal profile] deelaundry
I think Prodigal Son would have been much more interesting from the point of view of RSL's character, Alan Hoffman, and here's why.

The "pivotal scene" I mentioned in my review is when Alan Hoffman, the teacher and mentor to 17-year-old Jim steps way over a line and tries to hit on Jim. When Jim says something to the effect of, "What are you doing?" Alan immediately pulls back and drops it.

There had been a prior scene where Jim expressed doubts about his looks, and Alan told him he was good-looking. This prompted Jim to ask for a ranking of his looks against other boys in the school. It came across to me as self-centered on Jim's part rather than flirtatious.

When layered with previous mentions of a former mentee of Alan's who killed himself and a future mention of Alan being fired when a student finally comes to the headmaster, it's obvious that Alan is gay and hitting on boys in this small Catholic school in a small New Hampshire town in the 1960s.

So who is Alan? He hits on underage teens, so he's definitely a predator. But did he start out to be a predator? That is, given that Catholics in the 1960s had stronger, harsher condemnation for homosexuality as wrong than for imbalanced power dynamics as wrong, would Alan have been a predator if he'd grown up in a different time or worked in a different place?

In the play, there is no exploration of Alan's feelings about himself and what he's done. Alan saying "I don't want you writing about me" is just about all we get.

Here are some other lines that were important in the show:

- "I want that for you, Alan." This is spoken by Carl, the headmaster, after telling Alan how fulfilling it is to have a wife who stands by you and is a true partner. Alan's reply is, "Some day."

- "He wasn't strong; you're strong." Alan and Jim talk about another boy at the school who was troubled, and had committed suicide. This other boy was Alan's mentee as well. The "not strong" refers to the mental toughness to endure -- but are they just talking about turbulence of adolescence? Or does Alan mean same-sex attraction has to be endured? Or is it being hit on by your teacher that you have to be strong enough for?

- "I don't know why I do the things I do." Jim says this more than once. I think Alan would like to claim such innocence for himself.
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Dee Laundry

July 2017


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