TUTA produced Lagarce's Rules for Good Manners in the Modern World after being intrigued by the unusual form of the play and the staging demands it posed on the director and actors. Through working on "Rules" we became fans of Lagarce's beautiful, urgent, and precise writing that celebrates theatre as an event and an open process. By staging "It's Only the End of the World" - his most acclaimed play - TUTA returned to this major contemporary dramatist who is little known in the US.
"It's Only the End of the World" has a deceptively simple plot: Louis, a terminally ill artist, returns home after a long absence to tell his family that he is dying. Instead, during this last day with his family, in a happy thanksgiving day-like atmosphere of long anticipated reunion, everyone empties their emotional bags. His imminent death remains a secret between Louis and the audience. Although it is a play about a family's inability to communicate, it is wonderfully gentle, optimistic, and funny.
Structurally, "It's Only the End of the World" appears to be a series of monologues - the appearance is deceiving. Lagarce's language, beside being poetic and rhythmic, is fresh, disturbing, and playful. The characters' effort to find the right word (and frequent failure to do so), their readiness to correct themselves, to repeat a phrase endlessly, bring out humor of a kind we find in Ionesco or Beckett.
"It's Only the End of the World" makes us hyper aware of our own mortality, our own missed opportunities and inability to separate important from unimportant. Written at the time when Lagarce himself learned he was dying, "The World" reads like a gift to those who stay behind. What makes us bitter and unhappy? What stops us from communicating? Why is language not helping? Why are we unable to be true to ourselves? The silent presence of death in Lagarce's work highlights the importance of these questions we all face.