Cardinal2MARRIAGE isn’t a bed of roses for housewife Bette and her alcoholic
husband Boo, it’s more like a bed of nails. Surrounded by their neurotic, deeply disturbed parents, they desperately attempt to cope, raising their son to new heights of confusion. A searing dissection of marriage and family life, The marriage of Bette and Boo is the failure to communicate taken to its most disturbing extremes.
The author essentially walks us through his play in the transparent guise of Bette and Boo’s son Matt, who functions as narrator. From the start, Matt stands apart, shifting through the lives of the parents and their families in an attempt to discern why they went so wretchedly wrong. Although he never achieves a clear understanding, he finds the compassion he needs to begin to forgive. Bette hopes that parenthood will bring them closer together, but it doesn’t. Boo, like his father, seeks escape in the bottle. Like her mother, Bette expects that a large family will make her happy. After Matt, however, she births only corpses, four stillborns in monotonous succession. Bette nags, Boo drinks; Boo drinks, bette nags. In its outline, the story is sadly familiar; it’s the quirky particulars that make it both riotously funny and wrenchingly sad. Christopher Durang is one of America’s most controversial playwrights, noted for his dark satirical humor and his open assault on traditional social structures and belief systems. The Marriage of Bette & Boo outlines another one of these problems.