In the back garden of a country estate outside Savannah Georgia, Pandora Kingsley, 20, eagerly awaits her upcoming nuptials to Edvard Lunt, a man over 30 years her senior, floating like a cloud of whimsy around her mother’s rambling home. Her older pregnant sister, Floral, Floral’s husband Jonsey, and Kandall Kinsgley, the family matriarch, are all present for the celebration, and as the night before the wedding passes with chaos and confrontation, the guise that they are here to support Pandora and shower her with love is quickly lifted. Each family member, dealing with conflicts of their own, seems to have a reason Pandora shouldn’t be wed, from the age difference she and her future husband have, to the personality compatibility of the match itself. Things are made more complicated when Sidney, Edvard’s son from the marriage he broke off to be with Pandora, informs his father that he hasn’t come to celebrate but to tell Edvard that if the wedding happens, his ex-wife plans to commit suicide. Amidst this bleak revelation, other unspoken and unresolved disconnections come to light. Edvard and Pandora almost call off the wedding multiple times, before being drawn together again through the force of their love alone. Floral, it seems, is actually having the child of the Reverend Jonathan Larence, here to perform the wedding, with whom she shared a torrid affair before he escaped the scandal on a mission to Nigeria. His return, and discovery of her pregnancy, reignite old flames. Jonsey, Floral’s husband, a man quite frank about his asexuality, fumbles with the fact known to him that the child is not his, and seeks to understand whether a marriage is a suitable arrangement for himself and Floral at all. Kandall, always desperate to save face, has been hiding a serious illness, and reveals it only to Sidney, with whom she muses about the failings of her own marriage to her late husband. The two share a confused and conflicted kiss, and by the time the morning of the wedding arrives, Pandora, in all her quirky buoyancy, is the only attendant in remotely good spirits, and it take a miracle for this wedding to come to pass without another hitch. Beth Henley’s darkly comic indictment of marriage and its complications is a powerfully funny work of southern gothic pastiche. Impossible Marriage’s tragic nature serves to impeccably heighten the comedy to almost ludicrous heights as she paints a gruesomely fanciful picture of romance, naivete, miscommunications, and lack of honesty to self and others.
Impossible Marriage guide sections