The heartening resurgence of the American play

Had you polled theater pundits in recent years about which they thought would be in better shape today, the Broadway musical or the Broadway play, it’s hard to imagine any of them choosing the drama.

Yet one of the unexpected developments of the past season is the robust showing of what used to be called “the straight play” — a designation that sounds vaguely apologetic for not featuring high-kicking chorus girls and 11 o’clock numbers.

Apparently, those mythological hordes of tourists with their insatiable appetite for franchise spectacles aren’t having the final say. Playwrights and the producers who love them have been putting up a sneaky defense against the theme-park takeover of Broadway.

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…but just when you were ready to concede Times Square as part of the United Kingdom, lo and behold, the four nominees for best play are all written by Yanks: Bruce Norris (“Clybourne Park”), Jon Robin Baitz (“Other Desert Cities”), David Ives (“Venus in Fur”) and Rick Elice (“Peter and the Starcatcher”).

 

keep readingL.A. Times Critics Notebook, Charles McNulty

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