jeremy's Reviews > Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins

Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins by Nick Flynn
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's review
Oct 31, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: drama
Read in October, 2009

poet, memoirist, essayist, and playwright, it seems the talented nick flynn knows no literary boundaries. alice invents a little game and alice always wins is a slim, three-act play of urban surreality inspired by a combination of moments experienced by flynn and by the political climate and policies of bush-era america. with only four characters and a single, mostly unchanging setting, the plot revolves around the peculiarity of the characters' situation and the uncertainty of their relationship with one another. flynn's first dramatic work does indeed resemble, in part, the plays of the late harold pinter, nobel laureate and political activist, whom he mentions in the afterword. without flynn's illuminating afterword, where he traces the play's origin and outlines many of the thematic elements he was striving to convey, some of the overall effect of the work may have been tended towards obfuscation. while drama is undoubtedly a difficult medium to work within (and comes with the risk of alienating those without any real interest or background in theater), flynn's first attempt is a bold, serious effort. as with many plays, there are certain benefits to seeing it produced upon the stage, but in the case of alice invents a little game and alice always wins, even a solitary reading offers one a rewarding experience.

from the afterword:
sometimes, when the phrase "alice invents a little game and alice always wins" was rolling around in my head, before the writing began, i imagined alice to be a metaphor for america, and her game like a game of musical chairs, with the idea that the music was about to end. musical chairs always seemed the prototypical capitalist game, creating a sense of desperation and competition among friends. who is it that gets to take away one chair each time, and where do the chairs go, and who lifts the needle from the vinyl? that was an idea i had in the initial drafts, but in the end the alice in the play does not seem like the one who lifts the needle from the vinyl, or the one who takes away the chairs. in these pages, she is as bewildered as everyone else, if slightly more accepting of that bewilderment, which gives her whatever power she may have. she is, perhaps, simply one of the many who found a way to live without a chair, so to speak, earlier than the rest of us.
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