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Williamstown Theatre Festival

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"I'm much better with amnesia, or with comas." | Soap Operas & THUNDER

By Clare Drobot, Dramaturg for What is the Cause of Thunder?

What is the Cause of Thunder?, aside from being a quote from King Lear and the title of Noah Haidle’s new play, is also the name of the Soap Opera that one of the show’s characters, Ada, has been on for 27 years. Soap operas are know for their operatic plot lines (hence the name) and their seemingly impossible twists and turns. The plot of Thunder encompasses a host of comas, evil twins, and near misses with death. But then again, as Ada says “It is difficult to write the same story for twenty-seven years.” Below is a collection of actual plot lines from soap operas including some of our favorite deaths, resurrections, and bizarre plot twists that are just too good to be true.

“They’re killing me off the show.”
(Actual deaths on soap operas)

Maureen Bauer was the loving wife of Doctor Ed Bauer on Guiding Light and, in some ways, the heart of the show. Maureen died tragically when she drove off into a storm in the back woods after a heated argument with her husband. Ed had an affair with Maureen’s best friend, Lillian, while treating her for breast cancer. After discovering this information Maureen stormed out of the cabin and died in the ensuing car crash, bringing massive upheaval to the town of Springfield.

The troubled Alan Quartermaine (General Hospital) died due to complications from a major heart attack he had while being held hostage at the Metro Court. Of course, Alan has come back as a ghost, haunting his sister Tracy for altering his will.

Megan Gordon Harrison (One Life to Live) died of Lupus after ignoring doctors’ warnings and partying too hard in order to forget her heartbreak over her husband Jake’s disappearance while working as a PI in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Jaba.

Darla Forrester (The Bold and the Beautiful) died when she was run over while changing her tire on a foggy night. She was killed by an inebriated Taylor Hayes, who was frantically trying to rescue her daughter whom she believed to have been kidnapped. Ironically, Darla was only on the road because she was trying to aide Taylor in the search.

In a revolutionary plot line for Soaps, Stone Cates (General Hospital) died due to complications from AIDS. Before he died, he infected his then girlfriend, GH darling Robin, who is still on the show and living with the disease.

“Nobody ever dies on that show.”
(You would think that would have killed them)

Days of our Lives shocked loyal viewers when it killed off several major characters during the Salem Serial Killer plot line. At first, the deaths were pinned on the loveable Doctor Marlena, but in a surprise plot twist, it was revealed that the real “killer” was actually holding the still-living victims captive on an island that he made to look like a fake version of Salem.

Stephano DiMira, a long-time recurring villainous character on Days of Our Lives has been reported dead 11 times over the course of his run on the show. Favorite seeming deaths include: falling off a cliff (he returned after recuperating on his yacht) and surviving inoperable brain cancer with the use of advanced laser crystals.

Another character with nine lives is The Bold and the Beautiful’s Taylor Hayes. Her most memorable resurrection occurred after a plane crash followed by an open casket funeral. But surprise! The body was actually a dummy, and the real Taylor, who was suffering from amnesia, was being held captive by in Morocco by her stalker Prince.

In a Romeo and Juliet-esq twist on Days of Our Lives, Carly Manning, was buried alive (in a lighted coffin with a small air supply) by her arch-nemesis Vivian. Vivian had spiked Carly’s hospital IV with herbs to make her appear dead. Carly was saved in the nick of time when Vivian felt remorse and informed her husband Lawrence of Carly’s predicament.

On Guiding Light, Reva Shanye, who was in a coma, began to appear in family members dreams. Viewers assumed that this was a sign of Reva’s imminent demise, but, in actuality, the trapped Reva was astral projecting her image to loved ones in order to communicate with them.

“Not to speak of the plot. The plot! Don’t get me started.”
(Strange, but true soap opera plot lines)

All My Children’s Erica Kane is perhaps soap opera’s leading lady. In one plot line , Erica has the sinking suspicion that she recognizes her fertility doctor. She eventually discovers that the doctor performed an abortion on her years ago, became obsessed with her, and rather than carry out the procedure transplanted Erica’s embryo into his own wife.

Days of Our Lives’ Marlena was possessed by Satan after being offered up as a sacrifice by the evil Stefano. While under the devil’s influence, she vandalized churches and nearly killed a few characters before John and Father Francis managed to save her.

NBC’s supernatural soap, Passions, ran from 1999-2008 and was filled with strange plot lines. Choosing from many, perhaps the best Passions gem was the story of the evil Vincent. Vincent, upon discovering that he is pregnant, is revealed to be a hermaphrodite. The father of his child? His actual father, Julian Crane.

[photo] Sam Hough for WTF ’09, Pictured: Wendie Malick and Betty Gilpin in WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THUNDER?, Dir. Justin Waldman

© [Scenic Design | Alexander Dodge, Costume Design | Nicole V. Moody, Lighting Design | Jeff Croiter] 2009

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