Saturday, February 22, 2014

Revisiting Christopher Durang

Anyone else do the thing where you buy someone a book for their birthday or Christmas, and then the book you choose looks so interesting that you end up reading it yourself before giving it to them? My youngest cousin turned 15 this month, and he's a theater kid, so I decided I ought to give him some Christopher Durang. (I absolutely love having a teenage theater fan in the family and I am relishing my self-appointed role as "cool twenty-something cousin.") But then I couldn't resist reading the book myself before I sent it off to my cousin -- being careful not to get it dirty or break the spine, of course.

Laughing Wild and Baby with the Bathwater: Two PlaysLaughing Wild and Baby with the Bathwater: Two Plays by Christopher Durang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I first encountered these plays when I was in high school and Christopher Durang was a favorite among the theater kids. I laughed at the irreverent, naughty absurdities of "Baby with the Bathwater," and a friend of mine did the "Laughing Wild" tuna fish monologue in acting class. Returning to these plays ten years later, I am no longer so enchanted by their kooky irrationality, but I am more attuned to their undercurrents of sorrow and outrage. I can also see their flaws a little more clearly: as Durang notes in his afterword, both of these plays were originally written as one-acts and then expanded into full-lengths, and especially in the case of "Baby with the Bathwater," the seams show.

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