Despite my admiration for Adam Rapp's writing, I've stayed away from his plays the last few years—no easy task, given his prolific output—because they were starting to give me the locked-in feeling of a gifted artist endlessly circling round and round the same material, looking for someplace else to go but uncertain what direction to take next. In Rapp's case, this sense of imprisonment was particularly grueling because of the relentless sordidness in his work: characters always at the bottom of life, actions always the harshest and ugliest. Mixed into my discomfort was a flickering suspicion that only part of the unpleasantness was authentically observed or experienced, while part—maybe even the larger part—was self-conscious, put in not because it was germane to Rapp's vision but because he thought it would make the play seem more "real." He wouldn't be the first or the only working artist to think so: Someday, some social historian or philosopher will trace the way our culture has come to confuse reality with negativity.... More >>>