Kron, Lisa. Well.
Premiere: Joseph Papp Public Theatre, NYC
Published: Theatre Communication Group, 2006.
· Lisa Kron
· Ann Kron, Lisa’s mother
· Ensemble made up of a black woman, a white woman, a black man, and a white man
Lisa greets the audience and introduces the play as an investigation into the question why some people are sick and some are well. It’s not going to be about her and her mother.
Ann awakens in her chair, greets the audience, and finds out from Lisa that the play is going to be about Lisa’s experience in an allergy ward (where she got well) and the Lansing community that Ann made well through integration.
At 21% through the play, Lisa introduces the Allergy Unit at Chicago’s Henrotin Hospital. She’s admitted and introduced to the procedures and her roommate Joy.
At 26%, Lisa switches to Ann’s work at the West Side Neighborhood Assn. We see Ann begin to heal this sick neighborhood by integrating it.
Lori, a black girl and Lisa’s school child nemesis, storms in and out.
31%: Back to the allergy unit. Kay and Joy reassure Lisa about the unit as Ann interrupts the scene to go to the restroom.
34%: Back to the neighborhood. Lisa plays with her black childhood friends until Ann enters and scolds her for saying “black boy.” Ann goes on to take the scene completely off track by introducing herself to the actors, asking if they’re enjoying being in the play, etc. Lisa attempts to tell how Ann used a 4th of July event to build neighborhood morale, but Ann completely hi-jacks the scene insisting on telling her own stories or deciding which stories Lisa tells.
46%: Lisa attempts to introduce the next scene in the allergy unit, but the actors and Ann instead discuss allergies and Ann’s medical history which leads the actors to investigate Ann’s home with all its wacky-but-organized contents.
48%: Back in the allergy unit, the head nurse discusses the unit’s processes until Lori again invades the scene and insists Lisa dance to a song she’s never heard before. When Lori leaves, Lisa and Joy compare notes while testing foods for allergenic responses. Ann interrupts this coherent scene by shrieking in pain. Actor A goes to help her and has a long discussion with her about allergens in the environment (formaldehyde). “A” says she enjoys visiting with Ann more than doing the play, but she returns to the play after Ann gives her an old paper to give to Lisa. “A” returns to the play and gives Lisa the paper which Lisa stuffs in a pocket. They discuss more tests and Joy expresses her weariness with being sick.
58%: Transition back to an incident in the neighborhood when Ann tried to interact helpfully with the black family next door (Big Oscar). Lori bursts in interrupting the scene, harasses Lisa, and chases her around the stage. Ann then tells about being voted out as president of the neighborhood association, and Lisa begins to lose control totally. Lisa sends the actors off to prepare for the next allergy unit scene, and in their absence she tells about her embarrassing gaffes with costume parties when she was young. As the actors don’t return, the stories of costume embarrassments continue until, again, Lori bursts in and insists on being included in the play, but Lisa refuses because she doesn’t think Lori is a significant part of her experience in the integrated neighborhood. The girls fight and Ann eventually sends Lori off.
72%: Lisa attempts to move on to the next hospital scene, but Ann insists on clearing up details about the Oscar event. We’re finally back in the hospital with Kay who declares her distress about being sick when others are well. Lisa tells about her mother’s health crisis when Lisa was 16, and then Ann demands she tell about her wheat allergy.
78%: Lisa gets so angry about her play being hi-jacked that she turns it all over to Ann and goes to sit alone at the top of the stairs. In a long monologue, Ann tells about her encounters with segregation as a young woman and about Lisa being a quiet child.
81%: The actors are heard arguing off stage. They come on and then leave the play and go home after talking about how much they appreciate Ann and how Lisa really needs to deal with her issues with her mother.
86%: Lisa, in her “special light,” tells about leaving Lansing with its atmosphere of sickness and moving to NYC, associating with people who are well, and herself becoming well. Ann demands that Lisa come out and tell her what she really wants to say to her mother. Goaded, Lisa finally yells, “Why can’t you make yourself well?!”
93%: In the middle of their argument, Jayne (who has been playing Ann) drops character and demands that Lisa deal with the paper that Ann gave to her earlier. Jayne tells Lisa to stop worrying she’s going to become her mother and just let Ann in. Lisa reads the paper aloud. It turns out to be a speech Ann gave to the Neighborhood Association. It basically says that integration means making peace with things that are uncomfortable or don’t seem to fit.
98%: At the end of the speech, the play (Well) abruptly ends.
Well is a wonderfully theatrical and disorienting play in which actors play actors who are acting roles—and break character without warning. For instance, the actor playing Ann is named Jayne but is played by an actress put in the role by the director. The play appears to be directed by the character Lisa (originally played by the playwright Lisa Kron) but, of course, is directed by the person so credited in the program.
 Well is presented without scene breaks and was read on Kindle, thus the percentage indications instead of page numbers or other script location indicators.