Two Fawns in the Wood Dance into the Light
Maybe it’s just a dream. Maybe it’s real. Maybe it doesn’t matter either way. For the shame and the betrayal are felt just as acutely.
In the musical Speakeasy, an Alice in Wonderland take on Prohibition era New York, young newlyweds John and Jane have each spent a night of passion with lovers in separate parts of the city. In a nasty twist of space and time, their beds are magically united, and John and Jane discover and are discovered in same sex adultery.
And so John and Jane sing “A Fawn in the Wood”, a fraught song of a couple clinging and pushing away, desperately afraid, of themselves and the other. For an act and a half John and Jane sang lovely duets that only sounded like they were in harmony together (see previous post), but in actuality had them physically separate and unaware, directing their shared feelings away from the other. Now finally John and Jane sing a proper duet, to each other, full of love and longing in the classical sense, but also full of fear, and self-loathing, a fervor to forgive and be forgiven, yet also an unspoken desire to forget, a fear of looking too closely at the truths about themselves.
The title and central metaphor of “A Fawn in the Wood” comes from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” and Alice’s encounter with a fawn. Alice, after much Wonderland strangeness, is so confused that she can’t even remember her name, let alone figure where to go. She meets a fawn in a dark wood, that also can’t seem to remember its name. They both walk together through the wood, Alice’s “arms clasped lovingly around the soft neck of the fawn”. But when they come to the light of an open field, the fawn recognizes Alice as a human and itself as a fawn and flees in alarm. Alice knows who she is again, but is left alone and lost.
And so are now Jane and John, afraid and lost together, and clinging to another for comfort, even though the other is as much a cause for dismay as comfort.
A Fawn in the Wood
Duchess and Julian exit.
Long pause. John and Jane remain thunderstruck on the bed.
You slept with a man.
He was dressed in women’s clothes.
Is that supposed to make me feel better?
What was Duchess wearing when you made love to her?
Jane moves to get away from John.
No, please. Don’t. I’m sorry.
Both remain on the bed.
Oh, John. What’s happened to us?
I… I… please, Jane, look at me.
I don’t know who you are anymore.
Don’t say that.
I don’t know who I am anymore.
A FAWN IN THE WOOD
IF YOU WERE A FAWN IN THE WOOD
WOULD YOU FEAR ME
AS YOU PROBABLY SHOULD
OR COME NEAR ME
STILL BE DRAWN TO THE GOOD
YOU HOLD DEARLY
WOULD YOU HEAR ME
STAY BESIDE ME
HEAR THE TALE OF MY HEART
NO MORE HIDING
WHAT’S INSIDE ME
WOULD YOU FLEE WITH A START
NO MORE ABIDING
ALL THE FAULTS I IMPART