Much of what I wrote focuses on Durang's artistic relationship with the Catholic Church. Look for a hard copy to find out more! Here's a taste of what I said about the Roundabout's production:
Not all the cast members seem comfortable in the play’s world. Bette’s sister Emily, played by Heather Burns, is too one-dimensional, constantly hysterical to the point of tedium. The other sister, Joan, is a grouch, but Zoe Lister-Jones makes her incongruously sarcastic where she ought to be simply bitter. And Matt’s earnest speeches tend to drag, while a few come off as wan stand-up routines. But Victoria Clark is a marvel as Margaret, straining to keep smiling through one tragedy after another, and she is nearly matched by Julie Hagerty’s giggling, heartbreaking Soot. With a subtle shift of the eyes, Christopher Evan Welch carries Boo from earnest young bridegroom to middle-aged, addlebrained drunk, surveying his failures with a haunted stare. And Kate Jennings Grant steps nimbly through Bette’s distracted monologues, gradually adding depth until her nonsensical prattling seems pitiful and real.I also said Terry Beaver was "splendid" as Father Donnally. That reminds me... I already told you about the dreadful behavior of the first audience I saw the play with. I saw it again, weeks later, with a much more attentive audience -- including an elderly priest! In his clerics! I wonder, would I have seen that in 1985?
P.S. I didn't know my Commonweal piece would be called "Bleak House" till I saw it in print. But it's a good title, not least because it echoes one of my favorite Durang jokes, from the Woman's monologue in Laughing Wild:
"My favorite book is Bleak House. Not the book, but the title. I haven't read the book. I've read the title. The title sounds the way I feel."