A CLEARING IN THE WOODS is in a sense a fantasy in which a multitude of times and experiences are telescoped into a single moment. The entire life of a young woman is shown during the course of the play.
Atkinson, in the New York Times, describes the heroine of the play: "She is Virginia, the afflicted woman, who cannot make peace with life, and is tormented with memories of the past. She is trying to find a clearing in the woods; she is trying to find peace in her past and find the place where the pain began. In the persons of other actors Mr.
Laurents shows Virginia at various stages in her career, beginning with childhood, and including the several men in her life, beginning with her father. They are phantoms from the past. Until the final scene of release, they weave in and out of her mind in various phases of conflict, failure and misunderstanding." In some of the finest writing he has done, Mr. Laurents takes Virginia through her entire emotional life until, through her own courage and the understanding love of a young scientist, she arrives at knowledge and acceptance of her own nature."