On The Ambrose Asylum as Absurdist Theatre (or “Watch out for the Potted Plant!”)

Image Source: wwe.com

For the few weeks in which the Ambrose Asylum replaced Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel as the main roster’s centerpiece talkshow that can be depended upon to end in violence and the upending of furniture, we the people were treated to the strange spectacle of Dean Ambrose holding court with a microphone, a cardboard sign he wrote on with magic marker, and of all things, his potted plant named Mitch. A few weeks later and in accordance with the law of breakable objects in professional wrestling, Mitch got used as a weapon by Chris Jericho, the plant’s pot shattering as it bonked Ambrose on the head and fell to the floor. “RIP Mitch” signs filled the audience and the internet was alit with tributes to Mitch, such as this one from ambrosedreamer.tumblr.com:

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And now Chris Jericho has taunted Dean Ambrose with the remains of Ambrose’s pet houseplant, which prompted Ambrose to tear Jericho’s iconic light-up jacket to pieces.

So what does it all mean? What is the metaphor? What exactly is symbolized by Mitch the potted plant?

I’m going to go with: nothing.

Okay, maybe not quite nothing. There is a literary connection here—a one act play by absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco called Foursome (1959), in which three odd characters berate each other weirdly for a while about how lame they all are, every few lines yelling at each other, “Watch out for the potted plant!” Now look, sometimes folks accuse me of reading too much into wrestling. But even if WWE isn’t deliberately referencing the Ionesco play (though WWE’s television writers would tend to be educated in playwriting and theatre, don’t you think?), the Absurdity in Ambrose’s Asylum (note the assonance) was fertile ground for another lunatic sketch comedy to amount to the same theme: watch out for the potted plant!

But while absurdist theatre throws us plenty of intriguing signs and signifiers–the potted plant, Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape–none of it really means anything. Godot is not God, and despite a whole world of botanical symbology, the potted plant has no inherent metaphorical meaning in its context.

Mitch also has no deeper meaning. He was simply an absurd delight, and he was destroyed in an conflict between two irrational men behaving absurdly.

If you want to take a look at Foursome, here’s a far out performance of it that’s in Arabic, if I’m not mistaken, with subtitles. They use vases instead of potted plants, but aren’t vases just hanging there totally absurd as well?

And here’s a more traditional series of takes on Foursome offered by some kindly English class doing a project. Thanks kids, for putting yourselves out there as a internet resource on a somewhat obscure play!

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