Soap Opera is a one-act comedy play by a contemporary American playwright David Ives. It is an amusing story about a maypole repairman Manny who turns out to be desperately in love with a washing machine. The opening scene of the comedy is very humorous, since the protagonist brings his beloved washer to a restaurant with an intention to make a reservation for both of them. The conversation with a receptionist which follows is full of witty humor. Manny’s story about his obsession with a washing machine sounds absurd and comic. However, it is necessary to highlight that the play is humorous and serious at the same time. While depicting a ridiculous situation which is unlikely to happen, Ives touches upon a number of important issues such as romantic relationships, imperfection of human beings, and essence of human existence.
David Ives uses a wide range of tricks to make his play humorous. The situation itself and the repairman’s reminiscences make the reader laugh. The receptionist’s reaction to Manny’s story is rather unexpected. In the introductory section of the play, the receptionist seems to be sceptical, but having heard Manny’s touchy and sentimental story, he becomes more cordial and friendly. The reader is surprised to get to know that Maitre De does not find the repairman’s story absurd, since he himself suffered from a similar obsession. Particularly, he used to be in love with a telephone. It is amusing that Manny treats the washer as if it were a female. He defines it as beautiful, exquisite, perfect, and pure, which are rather unusual compliments for a washer. The description of the washing machine is contrasted with the depiction of Manny’s girlfriend Mabel. Unlike “sublime” washer, Mabel always has a jelly spot on her cloths. It is a ridiculous scene when the girl asks Manny to choose between her and the appliance. Mabel feels jealous every time Manny polishes the washer knobs or sleeps in the utility room. Her assumption that Manny buys rare cottons only to please the washer sounds absurd. The way Mabel competes with the washer for Manny’s affection is comic.
However, brisk humor is not the only characteristic feature of Soap Opera. The play can be defined as high comedy. It provides an insight into the problems of relationships, people’s striving for perfection and sense of life. Manny is aware of his obsession, but he stresses that many prominent people behaved obsessed while pursuing their dreams. The repairman dwells upon the essence of human existence when he says that we all are “appliances in the service of a higher manufacturer” (Ives, 125).
The repairman seems to look for flawlessness, efficiency, and purity. Therefore, he falls in love with the washer, which is “faultless” and free of “stupid human feelings and failing” (Ives, 121). Mabel, whose dresses always have jelly spots and who is frequently overwhelmed with emotions, is imperfect in Manny’s eyes. He falls in love with a cold emotionless, but flawless appliance. It is interesting that unlike Manny …
Posted by: Gwendolyn Contos