He says that there is much these playwrights do well. They are, for example, superbly crafted and there is much talent in the dialogue. But they are lacking one thing:
Here is a little of Feingold:
Obviously, events occur in these plays, and some of them can be called "dramatic." But the characters in each, as a group, have no dramatic meaning; they suggest the random sample of a public-opinion poll, or a circle of friends accumulated on a social-networking website. They drift through life, showing only the haziest awareness of family or society. The idea that what affects the
play's people cumulatively should have the stature to affect us, the audience, as a group seems to have drifted out of the playwright's
Unlike earlier plays about groups, such as Wendy Wasserstein's
Uncommon Women and Others, which compares the trajectories of five women who've bonded through the shared experience of a Seven Sisters school, the new plays' character assemblages suggest the sitcom producer's instructions in The Heidi Chronicles: "Just tell us who these women are and why they're funny." That's not enough for Heidi, who understandably declines, and it's not enough for the
theater, either. Yet it is enough, apparently, for a wide and affluent stratum of people, served by theaters nationwide—or maybe just for the managerial types who choose those theaters' plays. For them, it seems, the quest to make the figures onstage vaguely recognizable, like people you might see at the mall or on reality TV, has replaced the shock of recognition that comes with great drama. We may be living in a world so dramatic that those who provide entertainment for a living instinctively want to soften their work, providing a
harmless, faintly insipid virtual reality that never encroaches too much on the actual one looming outside.