Three Evenings With Young Playwrights: This Is Our Youth

Next to Albee's early one-acts, new plays by Adam Bock and Itamar Moses look undramatic

Engaged, but not so engaging: The Drunken City
Joan Marcus
Engaged, but not so engaging: The Drunken City


The Drunken City
By Adam Bock
Playwrights Horizons
416 West 42nd Street

The Four of Us
By Itamar Moses
Manhattan Theatre Club
131 West 55th Street

The American Dream and The Sandbox
By Edward Albee
Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street

Edward Albee waxed incisively bitter about this—complaining that young playwrights today are encouraged to soften their work and not take risks—at the talkback following the press performance I attended of The American Dream and The Sandbox, a pair of plays he wrote when he was around the same age Itamar Moses is now. Even if his contempt for the softening process hadn't strengthened mine, seeing these two plays again, for the first time since the mid-'60s, certainly would have. Now half a century old, they feel as sharp and fresh as ever, taking an aggressive stance toward American life and American mores that comes from a distinctively personal perspective and yet speaks with a general truth. No one except perhaps the playwright himself would claim that Albee's the best director of his own work; the rhythms of his staging are jerky and his casting uneven. Lois Markle, a late replacement as Grandma, is still struggling with the role. But George Bartenieff dodders drolly as Daddy, and Judith Ivey's beaming, steel-tipped incisiveness as Mommy—is it possible for coldness to be lush?—shows total mastery. And the plays, by the standards of any generation, are gems.

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