The play Nine Ten by Warren Leight has a very short plot that may seem to be nothing more than an ordinary play; however, the author subtly represents in his usual manner some important issues. There is nothing special in the plot, and it even seems that it does not have any sense. Nevertheless, the main point here is that the author shows life and death through the use of irony, foreshadowing, and minimalism, based on the appropriate minor issues that the protagonists do not pay attention to at all.
Life is an essential thing, but not for the main characters of the play. From the very beginning of the play, the author does not address any particular subject, presenting only five persons who are not enable to understand who they are in this life, and what for they live on the Earth (Pearce, Korth, and Warren). A reader does not know their names because it is not important for the author, who is mainly focused on the general interaction between them. It is obvious that the author depicts the events in real time, demonstrating the reality, which has a thin thread between life and death. Perhaps, Leight tries to make the audience see a deep sense of the plot that is full of irony. Leslie, John, Kearrie, Nick and Lyris gathered together in the Jury Duty Grand Hall not of their own free will. They are forced to be here to serve on jury duty, and are waiting to be called. The most interesting thing is that all these people are dissimilar starting from different professions and ending with some particular traits of character. The characters behave in a strange way, shouting and laughing at times, despite the fact that they are in the court. An attentive reader realizes at once that they do not just speak about everything, but actually gossip.
Witlessness is so evident at times that it disregards the meaning of life. The author describes his characters gradually, giving only minor details from their lives, because it is enough to understand their moral and spiritual values and personal priorities. Leight emphasizes that the main characters of the play even manage to speak about each other being split into two groups. However, firstly, a reader becomes acquainted with John, who successfully runs his business, being a trader. The author calls him “a slightly awkward bond trader” (Leight 45), showing that he must be proud of himself because he does everything possible to overcome the non-existent problems and completes his affairs in a very accurate and precise manner, even reading “a perfectly folded Wall Street Journal” (Leight 46). This fact can seem to be insignificant, but such a small detail characterizes a person, as well as saying about the female’s accuracy and scrupulosity. Then, a reader learns some information about Lyris Touzet, who introduces herself as a spiritual dancer and a healer at the same time. The reaction to such an unusual presentation can be different and controversial because these professions do not have anything in common. Such an interesting description immediately makes a reader muse on what it exactly means as Lyris calls herself a healer, not a doctor. It is evident that the author demonstrates much irony, mentioning that this young lady heals people through the appropriate movements based on the rhythm that has a great impact on the human pulse. Lyris also tries to explain what she means by healing, but nobody listens to her. Perhaps, it can be true, but not in this case. Moreover, Lyris refers to those kinds of women that want to attract men’s attention despite the fact that they look stupid and funny, constantly repeating the same phrases many times. Lyris spills some coffee on John on purpose in order to have a talk with him as it could matter something special to her, while she is in such conditions. Additionally, Kearrie, who is John’s classmate, mocks Lyris’s foolishness, behaving like a brute man.
The reality is divided into life and death, and the characters of the play are split into two “states”. Undoubtedly, it is very interesting to observe such people and their stupidity as they do not about what they say and how they behave. Comparing John, Lyris and Kearrie, the author reveals that they do not resemble each other, but still, something unites these people into one group. Kearrie practices the same profession as John, she is a tough businesswoman. Nevertheless, she differs from others in her character. She presents herself as an angry and a driven person that does not care about the surrounding. Moreover, she is very envious. In contrast to the above-mentioned group, the author created one more group of the characters that includes Nick Theron and Leslie Rudin. These characters are not as important for the plot as the previous ones. Perhaps, Nick and Leslie belong to the secondary characters who only provide either visual or verbal variety in the plot, adding some flavor of irony and foreshadowing. However, both groups help a reader understand the sense of this play as the theme is not precise, and one has to guess what the author wanted to convey. These characters speak about the inconveniences of the jury duty and their intentions to avoid it.
Foreshadowing is an integral part of the play that depicts life and the plot of the play (Kirszner and Mandell). In fact, it is difficult to understand the implication of the play. Certainly, Leight allows a reader to guess the main idea of the story because he does not indicate clearly if the plot reaches a climax or not. The author encourages the readers to pay attention to Kearrie’s career risk, a bright flirtation between John and Lyris and other events in the play. A reader begins to think whether John is married, or he is single, but merely bored. Therefore, foreshadowing develops very slowly, and there is the illusion that the end of the play does not have any meaning. It is vital to emphasize that the author represents this plot using two dramatic techniques, which play a very important role. Firstly, Leight does not mention a particular cast, causing some difficulties for the audience in order to predict the explicit events that will refer to the mentioned characters. Secondly, it is the absence of the current, unfolding events, even though the audience experiences this in real time (Chekhov). The paradox of the plot is evident because it depicts a part of uncontrolled life based on the total illusion, which controls the reader’s perception of these events. A reader wants to know what will happen to these people the next day. As for the author, he indicates that some of the characters will return one day to their usual lives, but the fact is that many people did not return to their lives after the events that happened in 2001. Lastly, the audience learns that all events of the play happen on the eleventh of September in 2001, and everyone is impressed.
Summing up, Warren Leight created a unique play entitled Nine Ten, portraying life and the reality with the help of some irony and foreshadowing. However, the plot of the play has a very effective meaning of the events that happened in America not long ago. In such a way, the author makes the audience muse on the importance of life, questioning a possibility to return to life after some horror and grief. Undoubtedly, Leight shows that life is a precious thing by illustrating a stupid behavior and attitude of the characters towards life’s significance. Even being in the court, people do not stop flirting and gossiping because they do not appreciate life as a gift presented by God. Thus, Warren Leight subtly portrays the theme of life and death, raising numerous, unanswered questions that will exist forever. Only losing close people and experiencing much grief, people begin to appreciate life and realize its sense.