I feel privileged to live in a city where great theater is within walking distance of my home. The Fells Point Corner Theatre's production of Ruined was one of the finest theatrical experiences I can remember. Your reviewer did not do justice to the work, to the director, or to the performers ("Ruined," Stage, May 23). It is rare to go to a play and believe you are witnessing reality, not just folks portraying some form of "truth." At times I had to convince myself this was a play and not actual people enmeshed in Congolese horror.
I do not have a strong stomach for theatrical violence, and much of what I have seen lately goes over the top in gratuitous shock. But Ruined is based on the world of banal evil and current, well-documented horror. The domain the characters inhabit opened my eyes to how human beings degrade one another for sport when given the chance. The play also pointed out that below the surface of civilization there exists a deep magma of cruelty and hatred.
It was not just the women who were destroyed by this culture of viciousness—everyone's future has been "ruined," and it's not a pretty sight. Nottage's play should be seen by students of politics, or anyone seeking a career in the Foreign Service. To me the playwright has proven that all the benevolent meddling anyone embarks upon is meaningless in places like her Congolese mining town. The only salvation to all the wretchedness is random acts of kindness or compassion.
Whether the drumming or the accents troubled audience members, it doesn't matter. What matters is that one can experience a theatrical situation that speaks to the world we live in—a world of greed, guerilla warfare, bloodshed, destruction, and despair. In today's smug, globalized culture the lessons of Ruined need to be understood by those of us who, unknowingly, reap rewards from the misery.