In Apocalyptic Butterflies, Hank Tater, a new father has a sort of epiphany, realizing that he can no longer take the rigors of married or parental life. On Hank’s birthday, he reached his boiling point. During the night his father planted $4,000 worth of totem poles in his front yard as a present, his 7-week-old baby had not been named, and he argues with his wife constantly.
Hank and his wife Muriel both seem to be depressed. Muriel is sometimes elated and at other times completely frustrated with her life. She seems to feel alone, with no emotional connecting happening between her and her husband. She thinks wistfully about a past love that she was able to communicate with. Hank feels out of place in the home and unappreciated, driven almost to the point of insanity by his unfulfilling, chaotic life. All of these situations encouraged Hank to have an adulterous liaison with the supermarket clerk. The object of his affair is sexy, having a body that has been unaffected by pregnancy. To Hank’s further dismay, the supermarket clerk is not interested in a serious relationship with him. Instead of being an escape she seems to be an added stressor in his life. Through it all of the turmoil Hank’s parents try to make their son’s marriage work.
Amazingly, Hank does not draw harsh judgment from the audience. Instead he appears to be character deserving of sympathy, completely baffled by women, striving but constantly failing in life. Muriel also draws sympathy. Appearing to be someone with “dreams deferred”, stuck in a small town with a husband and a baby.
The play was enjoyable. This is a simple statement, but I think it was a great accomplishment. The play takes place in a depressing setting of trailer homes and tiny houses. The life of the characters is unfulfilling and sad. Still, in all of its palpable pain, I was amused throughout the performance. There was also a feeling of hopefulness. I got the feeling that Hank and Muriel were not as far apart as they believed they were, and that eventually everything would be fine.