Leaving Wonderland by Shelley Thompson
Jane is a prize-winning poet, novelist, and successful professor in a rural university.
Two years ago, Janeʼs son Joey died following an out-of-character binge drinking episode during frosh week in a university some distance from home.
The event is one from which Jane cannot seem to recover or escape: under the surface of her apparently idyllic town is an epidemic of student alcohol and substance abuse. Almost nightly, Jane and her husband Craig are woken - if not by Janeʼs recurring nightmare, then by student revelry or rampaging. Jane has been robbed of more than her only child: her drive, talent, and professional and personal relationships are all casualties of the tragic event. Jane is standing on the ledge of middle age. Coping with the strange opacity visited on the bereaved, simultaneously she is slipping into the most invisible phase of a womanʼs life.
Like Lewis Carrollʼs Alice, a text she teaches in her 19th century literature course, Jane seems in danger of disappearing into a warren of Wonderland-like tunnels - of pain and loss. Her marriage offers no sanctuary, despite Craigʼs resolve to repair damage done by his numerous infidelities and professional jealousy. Her closest friendship with Carla, a VP at the University, is strained by expectations Jane simply canʼt or won't, meet.
The possibility of emotional rescue and the reclamation of her life comes from a quarter she never imagined. A dreadful, drunken first impression of Rob, an academically gifted rugby star, develops into a unique mentorship. The exact age her son would be, Rob carries the weight of his own tragedy and the pressures of his peers. An aspiring writer, he hopes to emulate the artist who drew him to this university. In Jane, he finds a kindred, guiding spirit for his craft, and someone who comes to appreciate his other extraordinary talents: compassion and passion.
The growing realisation in Craig that he has finally and completely lost Jane, is devastating; his response violent and shocking. Janeʼs discovery that she is pregnant is a triumph and
liberation. Although unsure of the childʼs paternity, she recognizes the author of her new life, and is determined to summon the joy to seize what that new life offers.
Year Printed: 2014
Running Time: 90 minutes
Male Cast: 3
Female Cast: 2