I must be honest: I have never seen a production of Will Eno’s Middletown. But I did not have to to be overwhelmed by the play’s meticulous language, charming minimalism, and admirable self-consciousness. With few major onstage actions, Eno’s signature simplistic and rhythmic poetry shines as the play’s driving force. The characters are therefore condensed into vehicles of the poetry. So much so that most of them don’t even have a name, and are identified by their professions. With vignettes delivered by “almost characters” that construct a barely-progressing story, the play itself is a poem with symbols and signs. “But what do they mean?” the audience may ask. Eno deals with the question by unapologetically penning the intermission of his own play. In the onstage intermission, the audience tries to make sense of the first act and reveal the meaning behind it. By showing us our fruitless guesswork of the meaning of his work on stage, Eno reminds us that there is no (one) meaning in his play, and captures the beauty and horror of life and the theatre all at once: It (only) means as much as you put into it.

Penny Pun, development intern

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