"Wild. Weird. Wacky. And rather wonderful. That's DARLENE AND THE GUEST LECTURER. A R Gurney's new pair of one-acters. For the past fifteen years, Gurney has been a strong presence in the American theater. He's incisively exposed the feeling lurking beneath the stolid WASP exterior in such plays as THE DINING ROOM and THE COCKTAIL HOUR. He's shown he can write tenderly, too, in LOVE LETTERS, which details a friendship from childhood to death. He also demonstrated that he could be Neil Simon-funny in SYLVIA, in which a dog comes between a man and wife.
Here, though, Gurney has gone out on a comic and dramatic limb--but one from which an adventurous theatergoer can enjoy the view.
DARLENE takes place in the suburban home of Angela and Jim, who are mulling over a letter that was stuck under their car's windshield wiper. Jim is shocked by the explicit language and sexual innuendo, but Angela is titillated. She eventually admits that she wishes the letter had come from him. The extent of Jim's horniness, though, can be found in his horn-rimmed glasses.
The play is a more civilized WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, mixed with a dash of Pinter's THE LOVER in which a husband and wife can only have sex if they pretend they're other people. But this view of two-empty-nesters who must admit to an empty marriage is as poignant as it is atypical.
THE GUEST LECTURER, though, is where Gurney really lets his imagination soar. A regional theater that once had the resources to pay two dozen actors in YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU now finds that even the two-character THE GIN GAME is beyond its means. So it goes back to the bare bones that theater once was: a singular speaker, Hartley, who will lecture on drama.
...a nifty Twilight Zone-like subplot." Peter Filichia, The Star-Ledger
"...good satire--as A R Gurney's plays are proving--can make for a rip-roaring good time....
DARLENE is an engrossing little play due to the provocative premise, the skillful writing....
...the riotous proceedings of THE GUEST LECTURER." Charles Paolino, Home News Tribune
"There are a number of reasons why millions of Americans go out weekly to sit in narrow rows or uncomfortable seats. One of the reasons is A R Gurney. These two plays show us again how he has become so successful by tapping into today's American psyche."
Gretrchen C Van Benthuysen, Asbury Park Press
2m 1f plus 1 piano player who can be either