Monday, June 5, 2023

Water in the Desert: Summer, 1976 and Good Night, Oscar

Laura Linney and Jessica Hecht in Summer, 1976. (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

Almost every straight play I’ve seen in the last two years has either infuriated me or made me feel desperate about the state of the American theatre. It’s partly the result of the Covid shutdown, partly the elevation of identity politics as subject matter, partly the pushback against the old priorities, like structure and narrative logic and character development – which is, of course, a form of the rejection of professional expertise, now considered a cover for racism or sexism or homophobia. But after you’ve sat through Fairview, POTUS, The Minutes, Straight Line Crazy and A Prayer for the French Republic (some of which were written by playwrights with some talent), you might long for a display of skill the way a stranded traveler in the Gobi Desert longs for water.