Susan Glaspell’s The Outside is a symbolic short play concerning two women and their attempt to shield themselves from the things that have hurt them. The play takes place in Provincetown, Massachusetts at an abandoned life-saving station. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, life-saving stations were buildings along the coast that were used to rescue shipwreck victims. The station is now the home of the embittered Mrs. Patrick. With her hired helper, widowed Allie Mayo, Mrs. Patrick lives a life of isolation as she desperately tries to suppress any signs of life. When a drowned man is brought to the house by life-savers, a sudden confrontation is sparked that illuminates the battle between life and oblivion.
The play is among Glaspell’s shortest, but is full of rich imagery and layered psychology revealed in its subtextual dialogue. The Outside’s nuanced themes and emotional content call for two strong female leads in performance.
The Outside guide sections