The end of the play is in sight. After tomorrow night's rehearsal we'll be ready to work in broader brush-strokes on the whole show.
The tiny section we worked on this evening brings into sharp focus each of the three marriages and the way the husbands and wives have had to revisit their feelings for each other. Maria confronts Joe: "Joe Helliwell, I want you to answer one question. Do you love me?" Joe, of course, is hugely embarrassed to be asked such a thing in public.
Even today, never mind a century ago, how many people actually hear those three little words after many years of marriage? Hopefully many (I'm fortunate enough to be among those who do). However, it's so easy to take it for granted; to assume that, once the initial commitment has been made, that the feelings will stay the same.
One of my favourite songs in musical theatre - which, I have to say, I've performed with my own husband on more than one occasion - is sung by Tevye & Golde as they sit and reflect on all the changes that have happened as their daughters grow up and fall in love. In this case, it's the husband who starts the song: "Do you love me?" "Do I what?" retorts Golde, completely taken aback. After spending the rest of the song establishing that they do things for each other ("for twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house..."), Golde finally admits "I suppose I do" - to which Tevye replies "And I suppose I love you too."
And, as they both conclude the song:
"It doesn't change a thing; but, even so,
After twenty-five years -
it's nice to know."
For the original and best, see the YouTube video of the inestimable Topol and Norma Crane at the foot of this posting; for a really sentimental rendition, the link to SoundCloud below is a recording made in a concert back in 2004 of Selwyn and myself (we'd only been married for 9 years at that point).