Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

The dramaturg for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs wants to know why William Inge has been overshadowed by Miller, O'Neill, and Williams . . . well, it's not that Inge can't write, it's that his particular brand of heartland tragedy has been overshadowed by more theatric and less natural works, specifically those of Sam Shepard. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is very much inside-the-box, and the big topics that Inge broaches--wife-beating, suicide, and late-stage depression--were perhaps the darknesses he couldn't surpass. After much dithering in the first act, we get to a strong, sturdy second act that uses Inge's awkward grace and comedy to illustrate life in 1923, insecurities and all. But then the play settles into an irresolute third act that explains everything from arm's length before dropping it all. From the actors to the directors to the playwright, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is a play that's stuck at the bottom of the stairs, afraid to take any risks: it's a first step, but nothing more.

[Read on]

No comments: