Despite Ruhl’s success, she is not without her detractors. Some critics have accused her of an over-reliance on whimsical and idiosyncratic details that can come across as cloying. Others charge that her writing lacks reason and psychological depth. Ruhl shrugs off these criticisms with a frustrated but spirited defense.
“I do think psychological realism is a crock, because it makes emotions so rational. It’s not realism. I think it’s just a form,’’ says Ruhl, whose husband and sister are, ironically, psychiatrists. “Theater, from Shakespeare to the Greeks, has always been about irrationality, in some profound way. So I think to make it all linear and make it all causal is kind of weird. The rational unearthing of neuroses isn’t enough.’’