Paul Osborne’s 1939 comedy MORNING’S AT SEVEN begins with two sisters, Aaronetta and Cora, and the husband of the latter, Thor, anticipating the arrival of their nephew, Homer, who is bringing his fiancée of seven years home for the first time. Her name is Myrtle. Although she does her best to remain pleasant, it is clear that she has become impatient with the extended engagement. The reason for this is made apparent The reason for this, made apparent in a variety of ways, is that Homer is still attached to his mother.
The father of her fiancé, Carl, has recurring “spells,” during which he rests and then bangs his head on a tree. He wishes he’d been a dentist. At one point he cries out, “I gotta go back to the fork! I gotta take the other way!” His wife says, “He’s always going back to that fork. I don’t know what that means.”
Observing mosquitoes and other insects flying around, Myrtle remarks, “It’s all part of one big plan…one big plan of some kind.”
Cora is struggling with the fact that her sister, who lives in the same house, has been romantically involved with her husband. When asked why she cannot be satisfied with him always putting her first, or at least thankful that she is not alone, she responds, “You can be alone in a lot of different ways.”
The fourth sister, Esther is concerned because her husband, David, has said they should live independently, presumably because he wants to philosophize in solitude. This was discussed early on in the play but we don’t meet him until about midway through the first act, when he sneaked around to find Esther with the others he leaves us with a few philosophical questions.
In response to Carl’s plight, David offers wisdom related to the meaning of life. Carl asks, “Where am I in life? What is the meaning of it?” To which David responds, “Some people answer the question ‘Where am I?’ with ‘I am a dentist’…”
Later, David asks, “What would you do if you were lost in the woods?” Carl replies that he would wander around and look for landmarks. David restates this as a response to Carl’s questions concerning the meaning of life: “wander around until you find a few landmarks.”
[People’s Light, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA] January 10-February 11, 2018; peopleslight.org