Noun, meaning enthusiasm or passion. I like that. I have been savoring the new play, Ardor, by Matthew Gasda, ever since I had the privilege of experiencing it Saturday evening, and I wanted to be sure I understood the exact meaning of its title. How to write about it coherently, however, eludes me. The play explores so many aspects of life, love, lust, death and identity that I am afraid my words will be inadequate. Indeed, words usually are inadequate. I think it is best to say that I inhabited the play rather than watched it. From the moment I entered the cozy womb-like living room environment that served as both seating and stage, I felt like I was among friends. I was given a glass of wine (it was opening weekend) and I found a seat amidst the pillows, blankets, and chairs scattered about the dimly lit room. There was going to be no way to avoid being a part of the play in such an intimate setting. Boy, was I right about that. For the next several hours, I re-experienced the intense angst and yearning of my mid-twenties. We were all hanging out in a farmhouse living room with a group of friends. The middle-aged artist/uncle/sage who owned the place, and his lovely model were there. The stage was set for a deep look at complex relationships and personalities. Emotions were high. Secrets revealed. Identities challenged. Defenses threatened. The clever lighting enhanced the rapidly changing moods in the room. As the intensity of the passionate search for love, meaning, self, creativity and connection was happening all around me, it was impossible not to feel deeply for each of the characters — every single one of them realistically portrayed by a cast of genuinely talented actors.  But it was more than a play about quarter-life crises. It was a play about how to live — with death as the inescapable outcome. What makes a life meaningful? How can we live life with passion? How do we navigate the consequences of the choices we have made  — and the challenges and tragedies life inevitably throws us? Can someone please tell us how to live? With beautiful poetic language and deep philosophical truths, Ardor wrestles with these complex questions. Earlier this year, I attended Denmark by the same playwright and was equally impressed. Don’t miss a chance to experience his latest play, and the amazing cast and crew that bring it so poignantly to life. And while we live, let us live!

Ardor, a play by Matthew Gasda. Painting by Jacqueline Brockel.

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