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Don't reorganize my life!It's very complicated...
Samantha Mathis as Lisa Morrison

Scene 36:  It's very complicated
Ruth confesses to being envious of Lisa's success.

Donald Margulies DONALD MARGULIES: It's part of the ambivalence that a mentor or a parent has, when a child is succeeding. It's not simply pride. It is certainly pride, but there is also a sense of the older person being threatened, being replaced, in a very primitive sense. It is complicated for Ruth. Ruth says "I can't just pat you on the back all the time; I need something in return, too." And I remember having that experience with older people whom I have admired. I never stopped to think what I meant to them, but only what they fulfilled for me. It's that kind of realization that Lisa experiences in that scene. That "Oh my god, you were seeking that from me" -- which is part of the whole role reversal that suddenly takes place during the course of this drama.

Gil Cates GIL CATES: Ruth confesses not to being jealous of Lisa's success -- she's been there, she's had that success. It's Ruth having to adjust to the fact that Lisa has her life in front of her while Ruth's is really behind her. And at that point in the story Ruth knows she is sick. The audience may not be quite aware of it, but Ruth is aware that time is running out.


Linda Lavin LINDA LAVIN: It's a very honest moment. I don't know a lot of people who would admit that they envy somebody else's potential. Most people are in a lot of denial. Ruth says, "I can't just sit back and watch you kids do the dance I danced so long ago and not think about time and how fast it's emptying me of youthful energy." It's that thing that keeps us all trying to be fit and slim. It's that thing that's been imposed on us and that we have to accept. Ruth is willing to say, "This is complicated for me. I'm happy for you, proud of you, and yet it's difficult to see you with all this light ahead of you." Ruth was there too. She is a very successful writer, but somebody else comes along. It happens all the time.


Linda Lavin SAMANTHA MATHIS: That's a complicated scene. There's a lot more going on than what she's saying. It's about betrayal and time passing. Being stuck in time. Ruth is stuck in time. Lisa is moving on. Ruth says, "Maybe I am jealous, but it's not professional envy. It's about time." She's jealous of all the time Lisa has in front of her. It's young versus old, but it's also that Ruth is dying and tries to tell Lisa by giving her a short story in which an older woman is dying, but Lisa doesn't get it. There are a lot of levels to the scene.

[ Go to Scene 27 ]


Watch the Scene

Lisa: Ruth. What is it?

Ruth: This is so complicated for me, you know.

Lisa: What is?

Ruth: What's happening for you. It's very complicated.

Lisa: Ruth? Are you jealous?

Ruth: Don't condescend.

Lisa: I'm not; I'm sorry; I didn't mean to... .

Ruth: (Over "... mean to... ")
It's not about envy - well, maybe it is about envy. But it's not professional jealousy, it's... You know what it is? I'm jealous that you have all of life ahead of you. I can't sit back and watch you do the dance that I danced long ago and not think about time. (A beat.) That's what it's about. Don't you see? Time.

Pause. Then she turns to Lisa and looks like she is about to say something. Lisa leans forward in her chair. Pause. Ruth changes her mind. She lifts her glass instead.

Ruth: Cheers.

She downs her drink. Lisa is looking at her.

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