Let me start this post chronologically backwards, since the more important part is that Azuka Theatre is doing a reading of Bruce Walsh’s new play, BERSERKER, at the Drake tomorrow (Superbowl Sunday) at noon with coffee and pastries beforehand. A lot of you might not know Bruce, but he’s a local playwright who had a play produced by Azuka a number of years back called WHISKY NEAT. I would run into him now and again, most notably at PlayPenn, but I haven’t seen him in a while, and the good people at Azuka informed me last weekend that he’s been in Chicago, slaving away at a higher degree. At least, that’s the cover story. In any event, he’s back in town with fresh plays in hand.
Which brings me to the play reading I attended last Sunday. Let me caveat this by saying that I am not a critic, professional or otherwise, and even if I was, it would be unfair to critique a reading. Having said that, this play makes me feel old. It’s a modern retelling of the story of Achilles and Patroclus sitting out the Trojan War, which might be interesting if anything happened, if it went somewhere, and if you didn’t need a working knowledge of The Iliad to understand it, but nothing does, it doesn’t, and you do.
I can’t explain why there’s such an aversion to plots or character arcs in theater recently, but I definitely notice playwrights sacrificing such things in favor of pretty writing, which WAR PLAY has in spades, no question. Playwright Bruce Graham blames Annie Baker, the Pulitzer-winner who’s forged a career writing smart plays that keep going until they stop. And, I suspect I might enjoy this sort of thing if I was twenty years younger, but as it is, I dig a solid story. Somebody do that, please.
- Meaningless milestones and itinerant playwrights
- Bruce Walsh at Azuka Theatre, part 2