Bruce Walsh at Azuka Theatre

Director, Kevin Glaccum and the cast of WAR PLAY, courtesy of Azuka Theatre.

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.