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The Shadow Box: A Drama in Two Acts Paperback – June, 1977

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Samuel French (June 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0573616132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0573616136
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After being asked to perform a scene from this play for a graduate-level gerontology class, I was enamored of the writing and decided to purchase the whole play for a better look.

Michael Cristofer delves into the topic of death and dying with everything from kid gloves to bare fists as we follow 3 families into their own personal struggles with death, whether it is the patient's own fears or a family member's denial:

Brian is dying of an unnamed illness, and is being cared for by his younger lover, Mark. He gets a visit by his brash party-loving ex-wife Beverly who uses humor to create her own comfort zone. Past, present and future collide as they all state their feelings about what this means to them. Beverly's no-holds-barred character adds a dry element of humor to the play, making some parts almost a black comedy.

Maggie is coming to visit her husband Joe in the hospice, and is so far into denial about it that she has not told their teenage son the truth, and refuses to even enter the hospice. Seeing it or speaking about it makes it real, and she's not ready for that.

Felicity is aged and has had so many surgeries there's not much of her left. She's being cared for by a middle-aged daughter, Agnes, who is keeping herself just this side of burning out. Felicity receives daily letters from her favorite daughter, Claire, who is apparently on her way to visit the woman who has surpassed all her doctors' expectations on her life expectancy. Through the voice of a phantom "interviewer" who speaks to the characters one by one, we find from the caregiving daughter that Claire actually died in an accident a while ago, and she never told her mother. Agnes has been writing the letters to keep her mother happy until she finally passes.
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Format: Paperback
In 1969, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote the groundbreaking book, On Death and Dying and named the five stages of grief that people who are dying go through, and not in an exact order. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And, here, The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer is about death and dying. The play earned the 1977 Pulitzer Prize and, a Tony Award in 1977.

The concept of the play is a departure from the standard storyline; it is a series of interviews and conversations of three sets of loved ones of those who are terminally ill. An interviewer is a member of the character list. The conversations of the loved ones remain separated, however, with great skill, the writer has the characters intermingle the conversations, but we view that as voices dramatically coming together. Shadow Box theme qualifies as a departure in theatre drama.

Written in late 70s, the unique and dramatic play takes place in cottages that are separate from the hospital, cottages where those dying go when there is no more help, but hope. You can't help reading this without thinking of your own mortality, or if young enough, someone close to you.

Joe is dying, and Maggie and son Steven come 3,000 miles to visit. Maggie is in denial about Joe and hasn't told their son. Aside from denial, Maggie tries bargaining with him to come home.

Brian's and Mark, a gay couple, are paid a visit from Brian's ex-wife, a whorish, rough talking, hard drinker. Mark deals with his anger knowing Brian will die.

And the third couple, aging Felicity, a cursing angry woman of about 60 is led around in a wheelchair by her daughter Agnes. Agnes reveals that Felicity is forever asking about Claire, a younger daughter who is dead.
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Format: Paperback
I read this play years ago and liked it... But, it was not until I was diagnosed with Lupus and Epilepsy that I truly fell in love with the words contained within the play. Life is precious and sometimes short... As quoted from the play " Your whole life goes by---it feels like it was only a minute. You try to remember what it was you believed in. What was so important...you want to make a difference."
Well, I can guarantee that if you or a loved on is suffering from anything ranging from Cancer to a lost spirit, this play will change your way of thinking about every day life. Don't just take it as a play... Take it as advice you NEED to live by.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...and it's stuck with me ever since. As far as I know, it was never made into any television or film versions, which is a shame. I recall being very impressed and moved by the storylines, haunted by them, really. I think it will be a very difficult read, depending how close these stories hit home for you, but I'm looking forward to it.
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Very moving and interesting play centered around four families and their dying loved ones in a hospice-house setting. Each group deals with death in their own way.
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