Anglo-American Interplay in Recent Drama by Ruby Cohn

By Ruby Cohn

The inspiration of a modern cross-cultural trade in the medium of theater is right here imposed on a dozen modern Anglo-American dramatists: Alan Ayckbourn and Neil Simon, Edward Bond and Sam Shepard, David Mamet and Harold Pinter, Caryl Churchill and Maria Irene Forn?s, David Hare and David Rabe, Christopher Hampton and Richard Nelson. In each one pairing, Ruby Cohn unites a British with an American playwright, exploring similarities that function a springboard for the publicity of a extra profound, culturally-based distinction.

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Their popularity is based on an appeal to social groups that account for a large percentage of dwindling theatre audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Reviewing Ayckbourn's Way Upstream, with its boating mishaps on the precarious River Orb, Sue Jameson noted: "Somehow my leaky roof at home didn't seem quite so bad" (London Theatre Record, 1982, p. 549). If we extend her remark to the abrasive relations in the plays of Simon and Ayckbourn, we can appreciate much of their magnetism. Sight gags and verbal gags not only elicit our sympathy for the feckless and irritated; but the humor also confirms our own superiority to the mediocrities on stage.

He fills round 1 with a capsule biography of a coward and a loser (anathema to the American macho image), while Hoss protests his originality. The Referee names Crow the winner. In round 2 Hoss accuses Crow of denying his musical roots in the blues of black people - "You'd like a free ride on a black man's back" - but Crow retorts, "I got no guilt to conjure! " The Referee declares a draw. In round 3 Crow sneers in rhyme that Hoss's music is obsolete, imitative, impotent. As Jeanette Malkin aptly summarizes: "It is the effect of Crow's attack, not its essence, which counts: and the effect is to force Hoss's deviation from the 'neutral field state'" {Verbal Violence, p.

At the rehearsal studio, the two ancient comedians continue to bicker, and yet Simon adroitly slips an old-time burlesque skit into their repartee, before Clark suffers a heart attack. In the next scene tough old Clark is as sharp as ever, spurning his nephew's home for an actors' asylum as his last abode. " Clark smirks: "You can count on it," but he does not reveal that he too will be living there. The Sunshine Boys closes as the two garrulous old men ramble on about the identity of familiar names in the Broadway weekly, Variety - a preview of twilight in the Actors' Home.

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