The Grass Is Not Always Greener

By Sydney Held

In Edward Albee's Everything in the Garden, "green" has a double meaning. Jenny and her husband Richard's garden is flourishing with green but their income is diminishing. The protagonist Jenny decides to disobey Richard and take a job, selling her body for money, in order to keep up with their wealthy inner circle of friends where money seems to be valued above all else. The performance was a reminder to me that the grass will always seem greener on the other side.

In Act I, Jenny does whatever it takes to keep up with the high-class life style of her friends. She cuts coupons, manages the family's expenses, smokes cheap cigarettes and only allows her husband to drink American liquor. She is so focused on status that nothing else seems to matter. But it is not only Jenny who is materialistic, Richard desires a power lawn mower and a second car like the other men in their social circle have. These two remain so focused on money that they can't agree on the age of their son or when he will arrive home. But when the family comes into more money from Jenny's new job, they realize that the life their friends are living isn't as classy as they believed.

In Act II, Albee reveals that the wealth of the inner circle is all coming from the women's daytime jobs of selling their bodies. The performances constantly stressed gender stereotypes and the idea of the man as the sole provider for the family. So revealing that these wealthy men were not the sole income for their families was an interesting turn of events. These perfect lives that Jenny and Richard believed their friends were leading proved not as glamorous.

I loved that the performance was done in a way where the audience could laugh along with the characters and the ridiculousness of the situation, but still take a lesson away from it. This play was clearly focused on money, status and material possessions demonstrated through the dialogue, costumes and scenery. But in the end, when the couple finally comes into enough money to buy a green house, send their son to camp and buy fancy liquor, their material gain does not outweigh the underlying unhappiness. As an audience member I couldn't help but feel guilty for the times I had been so invested in my personal material gain but hadn't considered what it would cost my parents.

I felt very connected to the performance and I imagine many others in the audience did too. Anyone who has ever imagined or dreamed of living the life of someone else would feel this connection too. The performance simply reminded me that the next time I day dream about living a different life, whether it be one with more fortune, more fame or more anything, that the grass will not always be greener on the other side.