by John Guare
, whose other works include Six Degrees of Separation
and The House of Blue Leaves
Set on the Island of Sicily, Philip and Penny are archeologists, and newlywed refugees from their former broken marriages, trying to meld their emotionally untrusting children into a cohesive family. But the friction and sexual tension that builds eventually results in a deeply Freudian and emotionally jarring climax, while the very ground under their feet trembles.
Gurare uses the freedom of modern theater to stop and start the action around deeply personal asides delivered to the audince by Penny and Philip. The flow of reality itself is fluid, as we may be trasported back into their past to view painful old memories in the midst of their present "happiness," displaying their conflicted emotions with immediacy and intensity.
Guare here uses ancient rhetorical devices to original effect, for example the group of children double as a chorus that sing short, eery compositions, much like the chorus in the works of Sophocles and other ancient greek playwrites. But he also expands on the choral form--In fact, the entire play is narrated in song by the fluid character of Eros (the ancient God of Love), who steps into whatever role is convenient in the plot.
This play has great emotional power. I saw it at a local High School--well acted and well Directed, but with minimal sets and costumes, and by the time the house lights came on I had become so involved in the play I experienced a sense of real culture shock the rest of the evening.
As originally produced at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York City is was directed by Andre Bishop and Bernard Gersten, opening on March 18, 1992 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The leads of Eros, Penny, and Philip were played by Eugene Perry, Stockard Channing, and James Naughton, respectively.