The last couple of weeks the question, “What’s your play about?” came up about a million times. It’s not an odd question, and I guess it is a legitimised one to ask when one wants to know more about a stage play.
However, I have this rule in life: Never ask me to explain something to you. (Well, it’s not exactly a rule. More a safety precaution.)
I am awful at explaining things. In high school, when I had to explain an episode of [insert random television series for women here] because someone had missed it, my explanations would turn into incoherent ramblings of essay-length. Ask me about my childhood, and I will make your head explode by illogical sentence structures, non-chronological narration, sentences that suddenly end, and phenomena that are left unexplained, even though they form the essence of the story.
So, asking me to explain Heaven forfend! is quite pointless. And not only because of my lack of explanation-skills, but also because it isn’t exactly a play that’s easy to characterise in a few words or sentences. The absurdist nature of many of the dialogues make it difficult to explain, and yet these dialogues embody the play’s essence—sort of. One of the recurring themes in the play is the meaninglessness of existence and of what is said about that existence. When Julie is trying to understand why Vinci wanted to be a nun, it is already determined that she, in fact, will never understand. Why Vinci wanted to be one is not important; nothing of meaning can be said about it. It is just one of the many choices he could have made in life, and because of entirely random forces, he picked devotion to God in a convent. (On a related note: Vinci’s a man.)
Which brings me to another element: being accountable for your own choices—and thus not rejecting responsibility—is also a big part of the plot. Nowhere in the play is this as present as in the unhappy ending. (The ending, in relation to the meaninglessness of existence, only further intensifies this notion of aimlessness. The play essentially ends at the beginning of a clone-play.)
Throughout this exploration of meaninglessness (as said before, very much present in the slightly-absurdist dialogue and the circular plot) and accountability, three less-defined themes are also present: firstly, being a free spirit versus someone who blindly follows everything that is presented; secondly, taking things for granted; and finally, Heaven forfend! is a look into the true life and the real living experience in heaven.
H’m. I think I have basically said everything I wanted to say about the play. Now that I have actually written it down, it will be so much easier to explain to people. Thank you, Words. You’re my God.