Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tony Kushner's Latest Play

In case you are interested, and you probably should be, Tony Kushner has a new play up at the Guthrie.

Reviews are out:

City Pages:

A thorough plot summary would send the cockiest writer at CliffsNotes crying to a psychiatrist. Suffice it to say that, in the course of three acts, matters concern prostitution, a failed doctoral thesis, artificial insemination, and a net of lies, strained bonds, and the disillusion of convictions. There is also, as one might imagine, a great deal of hollering.

Minneapolis Post:

To follow that thread, I suppose “Intelligent Homosexual's Guide ...” could be compared to Shaw’s “Heartbreak House,” a play that combines farce with broken hearts and self-absorbed characters and is highly admired while also being considered “difficult.” The characters in this play teeter between sharply drawn people and spouting didactic fountains -- so the rhythm of the play is a blend of speechifying, non-fake punch lines and aching emotion. For the most part, it’s a combination that keeps things moving along. You seldom tire of hearing these people talk.


The action is all naturalistic, with long scenes that play out as family drama, roaring emotion clashing with decades of unspoken resentment; the feints, parries and misdirection of contemporary communication are rendered in lavish detail.

To say Kushner is working at a high level is an understatement. Every passion in these characters' lives is a contradiction, each pleasure arriving with thorny conditions. And in fusing the thunderclaps of intense family life with the politics of labor (including the biological kind), the writer connects the mundane and the lofty with a scope that suggests an affectionate nod to English-language naturalists such as Arthur Miller.

Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Now the playwright can set his hands to clarifying his irresolute intentions, for Kushner has not yet discovered his own purpose in writing this play.

It is a very American work -- a dense rush of ideas and diatribes about the working man, wealth, spiritual unease and meaningful purpose. Gus finds his exaltation in union wages and justice rather than sales commissions, but he lives only a subway ride away from Willy Loman.

Pioneer Press:

The most notable aspect of the play — receiving its world premiere at the Guthrie Theater as the capstone of the company's Kushner Celebration — is how conventional it is. The man who twisted time and circumstance in "Angels in America" and who made appliances and the moon sing in "Caroline, or Change" has constructed a rudimentary kitchen-sink drama overlaid with speechifying and political pedagogy. A mash-up of Arthur Miller and Clifford Odets with a sprinkling of "On the Waterfront," "Intelligent Homosexual" struggles as much as it strives.

1 comment:

Thomas Garvey said...

Gosh, wonder how long it will be before the Huntington or the ART programs THIS one. Not that I'm holding my breath. Maybe the Factory Theatre can work it into their schedule!