One character is central to all three plays in Gail’s Place (“Secret Burdens,” “Clues,” and “The Place”), that rare woman who is unable to sustain any form of artifice when dealing with other people, secrecy anathema to her nature. All of the other characters react to Gail’s unflinching honesty in one way or another; some finding it refreshing, others intimidating.
Gail remains the catalyst for the unfolding dramas in all three plays, particularly “the implications of keeping (or not keeping) secrets.” In the first play, the others defer to the wishes of one character, a single man, when he requests that they all remain silent about his prior relationship with one of the guests at an anniversary party hosted by Gail and her husband, discomfited by her outspokenness.
At the anniversary party (“Secret Burdens”), the guests respect the man’s desire for keeping his former affair secret from his date, but complications arise as the dinner progresses, especially when the alcohol consumption releases the party-goers inhibitions. Unfortunately, the truth comes out.
Although the guests’ reactions vary, it is clear that it is all but impossible for a large group to keep information of this nature to themselves, allowing for personality differences and personal agendas. The result is an awkward situation for everyone and embarrassment for the young woman who did not know of her date’s history.
“Clues” is a more complex rendering of a friendship between Gail and her best friend, Lily, as the women are forced to confront their duplicity at the party and the possible consequences for the man’s date, Evelyn. It seems that Evelyn was found unconscious on her living room floor, and the friends debate the man’s possible involvement, given his past history of domestic violence.
Gail and Lily’s contretemps is directly related to their silence at the party and afterwards, when one of them might have said something to Evelyn: “Everyone’s looking the other way to maintain the lie… all to cushion the effect of the truth.” When Evelyn, dies, two detectives attempt to put together what information they can glean from the people at the party.
In the final play, the focus shifts from Gail and her friends to her communication with her husband, Ron, and how the intimacy of their marriage is affected by their decisions to ignore the integrity of their position vis-à-vis others. The element of secrecy predominates throughout, Gail’s tenacity finally rewarded by her husband’s courage as they reach a “place” where both are validated as individuals and as a couple.