Grease: A Short Reaction to the Play

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:31 AM

Well, today was Father's Day. So came the question that arrives every year: what to do with Dad to make his day interesting. Mom suggested that she had seen a play in the paper — a local production of Grease. Now, I had not seen the play or movie, nor had she, but we figured Dad would like it.

As a whole, it worked out well in that respect. But, I was thoroughly disappointed with the play itself. The majority of the characters were very unlikable, save for Sandy and “Cha Cha.” The former, the female lead, however, gets a happy ending, but only by switching to the dark side of the “Pink Ladies” (who are anything but lady like), and giving up the virtuousness that makes her likable to begin with. All of the male characters are, to varying degrees, unlikable as well. Sandy, at first, seems to be desirous of a real love, but she seems to give that up for the superficial, shortsighted pleasures and thrills the others seek by the end.

Moreover, the play is absolutely laden with sexual overtones. I am not referring to Shakespearan double entendres, either, but all kinds of overt references. In fact, that was most of the plot (if I can even say it had one). It was suppose to be a comedy and on the surface, it is: Sandy gets her guy in the end. To me, however, I'd say it was actually a tragedy, as Sandy all but sells her soul for some momentary facades of happiness. She seeks love and “improves” by seeking lust instead, a very different thing. Dr. Faustus comes out with a better deal!

Now, I may seem prudish to some, but I just would have hoped there would have been some kind of more meaningful plot. Is there nothing else to focus on in life or in love than physical lusts? Of course there is more, even Hollywood usually gets that much right, despite its generally distorted lens. I think what really disturbed me was the ending. I kept thinking someone would come around and love “Sandra D.” for who she was; that is, someone would improve. Instead, the happy ending requires the corruption of a basically good character. I cannot think of one virtue of the plot, one decent illustration or message to draw out of it, which is a pretty bad sign.

The music was mostly enjoyable — if you didn't listen too hard — but many of the lyrics fit the plot (or lack thereof), and so it did little to redeem the play. Yet, it certainly was not a set of songs I would want to own on CD, even dismissing the content of the lyrics momentarily. The big highlight of the play ended up not being the play at all, but the band that played during the intermission, which did a knockout job of imitating some 50's songs.

Critical Rating: ** (out of 5)


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