Alphabetical Order: A Library Play About Putting Things, Well, in Alphabetical Order

Play. Library. Newspaper. Marblehead Little Theatre. Theatre, Marblehead Little. How to categorize this? The characters in the play Alphabetical Order, written by Michael Frayn and played by the Mug Street Players, seemed to have just as much trouble figuring out where to file their newspaper clippings.

My fellow library worker and I attended the final showing last week with eyes accustomed to work in a library, albeit a full sized American book library rather than a fictional, one-room British newspaper library. Yet we couldn’t help but notice some similarities – the need (in this case, the desperate need) for organization, the types of characters, and the role of the library.

The play had a strong, realistic story line about the everyday-ness of working (and how bizarre it can be) until suddenly the characters are confronted with shocking news that could put them out of work. Do they give up and throw clippings around like lunatics, or should they fight for their jobs and the workplace they have known and come to think of as a sort of home? I truly feel bad for anyone who didn’t have an opportunity to see this play.

For more information on the play, check out this review from the Gaurdian, and this one from the New York Times, and a biography of the writer.

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