And So It Goes
George F. Walker
Newly unemployed baby boomers Gwen and Ned appear to be completely different people: Gwen, a practical, down-to-earth Latin teacher; Ned, an impractical investment advisor constantly dreaming up new ventures for making money. But appearances can be deceiving, as their son Alex, who left home years ago, and their daughter Karen, recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, can attest. Unable to maintain the façade of their former middle-class lifestyle, Gwen and Ned search for a new life in vain, not realizing that they have become redundant—they speak dead languages. Both seek solace from the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut, but he can’t help them in a world where the former universals of language and commerce no longer exist as foils for his sardonic humanism.
Of all the voices she hears, those of her parents have become least relevant to Karen, because they seem to her to be concerned only with what they feel about their daughter’s “condition,” and not with what she is experiencing within that condition. “I’m scared,” we hear Karen say as the play opens, and her fear is both justified and infectious. As the play progresses her parents discover to their horror that Karen has been living the life of a drug-addicted prostitute during her illness, lashing out at threats that aren’t there, but unable to defend herself against those that ultimately result in her brutal murder.
And So It Goes, a title derived from Vonnegut’s signature observation on the vagaries of life, is not only an allegory of our post-literate, post-9/11 lives, in which social order has collapsed, random violence is ubiquitous, “the authorities” have become hypocritically indifferent if not downright irrelevant to our security, and we have all become “scared,” but also a paean to the human will that carries each of us through our darkest hours.