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Chicago, 1940. In the first act, Thomas, a successful playwright, his brother, Hal, with his wife, Helen, and son, Tom, wait out a storm in the playwright’s luxurious apartment. The playwright proposes to write a play just for his brother’s wife. The next afternoon, still snowbound, Thomas, Hal, and Helen visit the wealthy Pflaum-Smythes upstairs, while their high-spirited daughter, Effi, attempts to make the acquaintance of Tom, the boy, downstairs. The adults descend to witness a reading of Thomas’s new play, a story very much like that of Hal and Helen running off to Tahiti years ago, only Tom and Effi rise to play the parts. In the second act, a week later, beginning in Hal and Helen’s similar, but much less expensive apartment, Helen returns to announce that she has the lead in Thomas’s new play. The family celebrates. Late that night, Helen, who has been drinking, reveals to Tom that the price for being cast was high, followed by a couple of other revelations leading to her midnight departures for Thomas’s. At Thomas’s, Effi makes an unscheduled appearance in one of her mother’s evening gowns to demand the right to sit in on the rehearsals of Thomas’s new play. Helen arrives with Hal in close pursuit. Thomas makes a grim announcement, and all leave. Thomas sits down to work on his new script, which is subsequently enacted before us as a play within a play until Thomas’s final spoken stage direction brings the lights down.
Production InfoCast: 7 total (3 female, 4 male)
Full Length Drama (about 100 minutes)
- About the Author(s)
- About the Book
- Special Notes
“Here are some of the things I admire about Michael McGuire as a playwright:
He takes chances.
He understands that plays should be ‘about’ something.
He understands that playwriting must be a socially responsible act.
He understands that to be truly entertaining a play must involve us deeply.
He understands that each play must have its own identity — its own voice.
I wish all playwrights understood this.”
“McGuire’s writing is hauntingly thoughtful, inexorably true.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“As with all of Mr McGuire’s work, these plays are mysterious, lyrical, and full of strange, and often startling surprises.” —Christopher Martin, Founding Director, C S C Repertory
“This is not hit or miss experimentation, but the mature work of an artist with a love for words and a highly developed sensitivity for the theatrical.” —John Schneider, Artistic Director, Theatre X
“As I’ve suggested, what makes his plays special is their literariness. I don’t mean anything like mere rhetoric, but in the theatricality a verbal delicacy of feeling, with nuances of perception that you’d expect to find in more private forms. He was always, in the theater, resistant to those who were dismissing language because they never thought much of it, or even when they did because, in his view of theater, the beginning is the word. That may or may not be true, but if we’re going to have language on stage would that more playwrights had as fine a sense of it as Michael McGuire.” —Herbert Blau, Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
“… a tightly controlled imagination … Mr McGuire’s aim is to keep testing the emotional limits of the audience until the last light goes out.” —D J R Bruckner, New York Times
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