MRS BARKER in ‘The American Dream’

MRS BARKER in The American Dream
by Emily Bailey

Emily Bailey as MRS BARKER in Edward Albee’s The American Dream

(日本語は英語に続く) MRS. BARKER’s roles in The American Dream are both functional and thematic. She is called, though no one knows why, into the family’s “peaceful, happy” home (okay, maybe not), and changes the course of an already unusual day. BARKERS’s role is to offer a service, one which she isn’t quite sure of, though she seems willing to service DADDY. This is the norm for her as a woman of many professions, in a society where consumer satisfaction and profit are the ultimate goals, and any object, service or person becomes a profit. (The very idea!)

Except, the proud BARKER shows herself to be slightly less than professional, and the wealthy family who called on her show themselves to be a little less than their own vaunted images. The white picket fence of their dream home has been swapped for a constantly shifting apartment with a faulty doorbell. Career dreams are meant to be had, and not lived out. BARKER, MOMMY and DADDY claim high standards. They demand (or promise to give) satisfaction and, though they’ll claim otherwise, they never actually get it.

The characters comment on these issues, either consciously or unconsciously, and BARKER acts as a sounding board for them, reinforcing what is said at times, and mocking them at others. She gives an outside perspective on the family’s absurdity, though more often than not merely enforces the confusion. As the play progresses, her dynamics with each character develop, and BARKER particularly finds an ally in GRANDMA, becoming one of the first people in years to listen to GRANDMA without telling her to “shut up”. And this later gives BARKER what she needs to pretend to save the day. 

BARKER restores the world to order by giving everyone the satisfaction they demanded, or at least an illusion of it. DADDY gets his satisfaction… we think. MOMMY gets her product exchanged, which much like the hat, is really the same one all over again. YOUNG MAN gets a job and is reunited with his almost family, but what does he care? He’s only interested in money now. GRANDMA gets to talk to someone who will finally listen to her (though really only because she has information BARKER needs). GRANDMA’s well aware of this, one of the few characters who seems to understand the hollowness and transience of everyone’s satisfaction. By ostensibly satisfying all of these people, BARKER gives herself her own satisfaction in a job well-done, which of course will only last as long as that of her clients.

Emily Bailey as MRS BARKER in Edward Albee’s The American Dream





— 有馬ちふ美 翻訳

MRS BARKER by Geof Griggs

Photography courtesy of Geoffrey Griggs Photography.

Edward Albee Showcase

Edward Albee Showcase
April 15-16
13:00 & 18:00
Sasashima Studio