THE LAST CLASS
by Marianne McDonald
written & directed by Marianne McDonald
Featuring Jenni Prisk
The Last Class - In this play by Dr. Marianne McDonald, a professor gives a last lecture of a deeply personal nature, reliving her exciting adventures, devastating losses, regrettable mistakes, fascinating triumphs, and deeply-felt passions. Told with simple honesty and remarkable humility, this is a portrait of a woman of plural identities, an intellectual, mother,lover and teacher who courageously shares herself with the audience and in so doing, unites us in our collective humanity.
Marianne McDonald’s The Last Class is but a brief outline of a life journey. Quite probably it’s a three-quarter chronological look-back at some of the miss-steps taken in a life full of mischief, determination, inquiry, pain, healing and transformation.
The device McDonald has chosen is a natural one for her; a lecture to students who may even listen to her wisdom gained by living life to the fullest. Much like a university classroom a theatre audience is composed of many willing listeners and Doctor McDonald has much to say about her many experiences on this planet.
Jenni Prisk acts the part of Professor McDonald in this revealing and factual life tale of a woman who has...lived. Prisk allows for a dignified and proper execution of the journey. She infuses the text with the proper balance of humor, tears, regret, audacity, and the ability to learn and even teach from such experiences.
McDonald includes tales of lovers and other strangers in her last class. She juxtaposes Greek tragedy with personal tragedy and allows us to make any parallels with heroism, truth and the human spirit. Like so many electrifying characters in Greek drama, McDonald has stayed true to her own passionate set of values.
I might object that The Last Class should have been The First Class of the semester as the playwright unsparingly titillates us with much factual information that just scratches the surface that immediately cries out for a more complete telling of the facts (If there’s an autobiography coming I might stand in line to purchase such prose). Dramatically the subtext speaks louder than the outline of personal connections to individuals who allowed the author to resurrect familial blood that flowed unceremoniously in many different directions with muffled and un-muffled screams of sorrow and lamentation.
Marianne McDonald’s journey is full: husbands, lovers, an overdose, drag racing, alcohol abuse, et al. In the end all of her perceived failures speak directly to her many wonderful achievements; they are part of what makes her spirit (and the spirit of so many others) soar high into the stratosphere. Hopefully her wings will flutter with great strength for many years to come