The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Must be more to Morrie

Went to see the opening night of the Playmakers’ production of “Tuesdays with Morrie” on Saturday. It was mostly harmless. I mean I laughed at the quips, but the play didn’t stay with me. I didn’t feel for the characters. It was without without the power and doubt of “Wit” or the insistence of “Whose Life is this Anyway?” both about dying smart people (who are more interesting than Morrie as characters — he, Morrie, is much more lovable and in a way simple which makes him predictable and ultimately shallow).

Morrie and Mitch are not as diverting or deep as say either character in “My Dinner with Andre.” Nothing in the “Tuesdays” approaches anything said or written by Spalding Gray. There is more comedy and more good ole pathos in David Mamet‘s “Duck Variations.”

I was amused by Morrie and not so taken or put off by Mitch, but soon afters I felt letdown.

There was one exchange in which Morrie asks Mitch, his former student now a Detroit sports writer, “What have you got against touchy-feely?”
Mitch answers “It’s fine by me except for the touching part [pause] and the feeling part.”

Morrie says something about God later. Mitch: “I thought you were an agnostic?” Morrie – “I was but now I’m not so
sure” that kind of thing. I laughed at the time but only once and only quickly.

But “Wit,” that play haunted me for months.

Note: The Daily Tar Heel reviewer agrees with me (on his own terms of course).

Further note: Morrie loves to quote Auden out of context and incorrectly as “We must love each other or die.” I too love the line but realize some of its complications. The line. “We must love one another or die” comes from “September 1, 1939”. Auden first changed the line to read “We must love one another and die.” Next he dropped the stanza containing the line. Then completely frustrated he dropped the poem from his Collected saying “We die anyway.” The poem was restored to Auden’s collected work only after his death. I love the line in the original and in the poem, but I also love the complexity with which I must read it. How right was Auden at each stage of revision? How true the poem at each point in his life? In my life? And the context of the poem, the beginning for World War II


  1. Sven Birkerts (for one) called it his best line.

  2. Thank You, Paul Jones! I saw “My Dinner with Andre” years ago . . . too young to appreciate it, I chalked it up as “depressing and low budget” and wiped it from my memory (or so i thought). And then my family got all gaga about Mitch Albom, and I couldn’t understand why they were talking about “Tuesdays with Morrie” (the book) when I had seen the movie some 25 years earlier. I had forgotten the exact title of the movie, but it sounded similar, and the stories were “much the same”. It’s comforting to know at least one other person made that correlation.

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