Interpreting the play Pullman, WA

Pullman, WA, by Young Jean Lee, is in some ways one of the simplest of plays, and in some ways one of the most baffling.  It requires only three actors, and each may be of either gender; no scenery and no props are required.  Pullman runs about one hour, lacks character names, and lacks a plot in the traditional sense.  Yet Pullman seems to well portray humanity at its worst and best.  The characters alternate among cruelty, kindness, hubris, and loss of confidence.  They also alternate between childish behavior, both cruel and joyful; and wise insight.  Especially baffling are passages of rhythmic gibberish—or is it an obscure language?  By all accounts from our audience members and participants, the author’s main message is difficult or impossible to discern.

So what sense, if any, can we make of Pullman?  Interpretations may well vary, but your correspondent favors the idea that hope and renewed striving can follow the worst collapse.  At least two of the three characters suddenly lose confidence more than once—one character in particular blatantly implodes—but they don’t permanently give up.  As the play closes, the only character remaining onstage describes a scene of horrible devastation and says she is fortunate—and it seems to me that feeling fortunate may predispose one to once again strive for a better world.

—Bill Goodman
The Edge of the Universe Players 2 Inc.

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