Folly- Any foolish and useless but expensive undertaking
The play Talley's Folly, in my opinion, is just that a folly. However the play would be better named "Wilson's Folly" for the writer, Lanford Wilson. I had several objections to this play being considered a classic. It was composed of nothing but petty details in dialogue. It also had no plot or any creative twists to it that would make a reader want to continue to read the play, and consisted of two surpassingly ordinary and one overly used setting.
The characters in Talley's Folly spend the entire play delving into their pasts and telling each other the most mundane details of their lives. Matt, the Jewish accountant, spends much time explaining the fact the he can add and subtract numbers like lightning and how he is good at puzzles. He spends even more time telling his entire life story, including every detail which the reader could have lived happily without reading. He also goes into describing small things such as dreams he has had, songs he has heard, and the accent which he believes he has lost. In fact, almost everything he says is petty and unnecessary to be included in the play. Sally Talley, the nurse's aid who the play is apparently named after, spends the entire play doing two things. These consist of criticizing Matt and teaching him to ice skate. The whole section of dialogue coming from Sally's end is devoted to these two purposes.
Talley's Folly was the first play I have ever read which is utterly plotless. As the entire play consists of the characters discussing their pasts and mundane details of their lives, the author does not find the time to build a plot in the whole of the play. Sure, every reader comes out knowing the characters like the back of their hand, but I was not able to derive a point through my reading. The author may have had a larger base of readers had he inserted this rather important literary device when he wrote the play.
A lack of creativity, humor, and action marked Talley's Folly. The play had not one display of sheer literary brilliance or creativity that I noticed. It had nothing to keep a reader on the edge of his or her seat more than a middle-aged man not knowing how to ice skate. Talley's Folly was utterly lacking in humor also. I found nothing humerous about a man saying his car is out of gas or a woman talking about how her family thinks she is a bit out of the ordinary. Also, the play contained no signs of any action which would help to make up for its lack of plot and humor. In fact, the most action the author instilled in his work was a middle aged man crawling out of a hole in the floor.
A play, in my opinion, can survive on two characters alone. Provided that said two characters have unique qualities to talk about, or use, or even just think about. These two characters were extremely commonplace, neither having more to talk about than their pasts, jobs, and families. This made for some imminently dull conversation between them. The scenery, also, could have used a change somewhere along the line.
A boathouse with two people in it is a novel scene, provided that it changes. After a long period of time with no change, the boathouse begins to feel a bit too traditional and a change is needed. The author of this play did not seem to recognize this and made an overkill in using the boathouse for the entire story.
In all, this play was not as interesting to me as it apparently was to the people who gave it a Pulitzer Prize. The sub-par conversation topics, the plotless aspect of it, the lack of attractive qualities in a play, the common characters, and the overly familiar scenery was just a bit too little for a good critique to come from me. Apparently Wilson forgot his name when naming the play and inserted "Talley" in its place.