What’s the Deal with slasreveR neveS?

Let’s begin at the end. I think that’s the most fitting for an analysis of a story like this. Reversal 6: The easiest scene to understand. The author has made a self insert from the character of Marla, and an insert for the audience in Jake. Jake is bored and confused because the play is not straightforward. Sure, the show is goofy, but it doesn’t feel substantive to him because it seems to have no cohesion. Jake calls her a Buttinski, which I learned means “One who is prone to butting in; a meddler.” The writer is literally butting in to tell the audience, “Hey! There’s something meaningful here!” Well, if the writer is so insistent on the layered meaning of this play, then perhaps we should do as Reversal 7 does: rewind, and start over. 

This will be a short summary/analysis of each of the main reversals present in slasreveR neveS. I hold a strong belief that each scene is trying to show the audience how the reversals they utilize each make a commentary about how we understand characters in other plays. I will not be engaging with any of the blue-out scenes. I find they encompass a different story. With that said, nigeb suh tel.

Reversal 1: Mixed speech. You kind of know what’s being said, but the longer you listen the less that makes sense. This is done to acclimate the audience to the zany nature of this show, but to also show us that words are not the necessary focus to understand the scene. The actors are forced to use their tone and physicality to convey the plot instead. The costumes do a lot of heavy lifting as well to represent character alignment. This is the more entertaining way to do it, after all. The lines should never be the sole focus of how a scene is told. 

Reversal 2: This scene does a reversal of character goals. Instead of putting focus on the time that is left, Ben and Robin focus on the game. That’s what’s important to them. And why shouldn’t it be? If Robin has cancer, will die very soon, and he got his will together and everything, then he deserves to see the Green Sox win. Who cares about the nuke? It’s not more realistic, but it’s a more honest and authentic way for these characters to live in the moment. Almost an anti-reversal of sorts.

Reversal 3: I don’t understand what is to be made of casting light on the actors before or after they take on the roles of their characters, but I have ideas about Nora, Martha, and Isabelle. The darkness indicates light, and the light is now darkness. Which means to me that when the spotlight shines in a certain direction as a character speaks, it is revealing darkness instead. For Nora, the spotlight is on Isabelle, as she laments about the optimism of her cousins. Nora can easily and succinctly identify the darkness within her cousins, making reasoned and self aware criticisms. Martha wishes to understand Nora, but cannot. That’s why the light moves to Nora’s book. Similar to my CD experience, she can only get external, surface level insights about the people she cares about. As Isabelle speaks, however, the light is brought to random locations around the set. She doesn’t care about the darkness within her cousins. She only cares about their capacity to serve her ends. To Isabelle, they are “2 halves of the same heart, that organ being [her] own.” This works the same, yet almost opposite to scene 1, in that we are removing our ability to perceive the physicality of the characters, but this time we learn about them through the range of the lighting. 

Reversal 4: I have a personal headcanon for this one. I believe that this scene is the position all the characters want to be in. The Villain, as a child, just wants to be loved. Gwen, now as a villain, gets to enjoy having the power to control other people, instead of other people controlling her. Mother, as the hero, has the resources to help all the people she cares about. Lastly, the Hero, now taking the role as the mother, gets to have a more personal role, not as a savior, but as a friend. It is a common narrative tool for characters to assume the role of another character. However, it’s rarely utilized so explicitly.

Reversal 5: Finally, we reach the end of the middle. The grand whodunnit. What’s great about this scene is that because of the main reversal, that of the murderers are now fighting for all the credit, additional, smaller reversals can be packed in. The detective, for example, is no longer the subject of admiration for skill or deductive reasoning. He is now only a vessel to direct admiration to other characters. The maid, which in many stories can also be the butler, is the only person in this house to have not made a kill. The primary reversal of this scene is similar to the second scene, about reversed priorities. But again, this becomes an anti reversal, because villains already love going on diabolical monologues about their evil plans. But don’t we all just want attention after a job well done?

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