POST: FringeNYC's 'Night of the Living' - the child stuck in the middle

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When people want what they can’t have, they often end up doing the most selfish things. Night of the Living centers its plot around the relationship of Marshall and Mia, a relationship that is held together by their child, Henry. I know all too well about what it’s like being the child stuck in the middle of constant arguments and bickering. You feel helpless and unloved at times. 

I didn’t really believe that Mia and Marshall really loved Henry. It’s not like they showed hard hitting signs of caring about him when Mia was cheating on Marshall or when Mia used wanting a family vacation to combat Marshall’s anniversary plans (when in reality she actually had plans with Jim, her coworker, that she did not want to cancel). I mean, I know we never actually met Henry, but I believe actions speak louder than words, and all Mia and Marshall did was argue over who took care of Henry best, who was the most responsible parent, etc. This constant argument seemed to scream, “Look how much heavier my burden in than yours!”

I’m very familiar with being the subject of a parental dispute, and this dysfunctional couple just reminded me more and more of what I dealt with when my parents were both under the same roof. You feel like a nuisance because you obviously aren’t a source of happiness in
the slightest. Mia and Marshall basically reflect what would happen to me and my parents if
we were hiding out during a zombie apocalypse.

I don’t remember how old Henry is supposed to be but if he’s old enough to go to school then he’s obviously old enough to understand what his parents are arguing about in the next room. I was eavesdropping on my parents when I was about three years old.

I know the play is about Mia and Marshall, but I could care less about their problems. In the case of a parent’s worth versus a child’s, I will always weigh the child’s more.  Parents are too stubborn to admit their faults, and children are strongly influenced by the mistakes their parents make. Yea, it’s a lot of pressure.

Without someone portraying Henry, it’s easy to forget that he exists. I wonder if others watching the show remember him, or care about what he went through. I mean, Mia and Marshall are about to divorce when Henry’s zeta symptoms blow up. But if Henry’s symptoms were to wait another week, wouldn’t they have separated? The only reason Mia and Marshall stay together is to console one another in their grief, which is totally realistic and understandable, losing a family member often brings people together.

Throughout the play, Henry represents stress and then loss in order to show how Mia and Marshall endured pain, but what about Henry’s pain? Why do I feel like Henry was more of an accessory than a character? He’s never introduced, and that bothers me. Maybe I have a soft spot for children, or maybe I just know what it’s like to be a child like Henry, or maybe I just think I know what it’s like to be Henry. Maybe I just made Henry myself, and Mia and Marshall became my parents in those few hours I spent in that chair, watching everything happen. I’m actually glad Marshall and Mia don’t get their happy ending, I don’t feel like either of them deserve one.

-Lakshmi