Saturday, September 25, 2010

Office Hours ***

A.R. Gurney's latest play is a series of related sketches taking place in the offices of the instructors who teach a required Great Books course at an unnamed university in the early 1970's. The play takes us from morning to evening, September to June, Plato to Shakespeare. Written for The Flea Theater's young resident company, The Bats, it provides the opportunity for 6 young actors (actually 12, because there are two alternating casts) to demonstrate their acting chops by taking on 5 roles each. Some of the sketch topics include plagiarism, faculty romance, the ambiguities of mentoring, emerging feminism, the difficulty of engaging students' interests and the fallout from the Vietnam War. Underlying all is the question of whether courses dealing strictly with "dead white men" are still valid. The quality of the sketches was a bit uneven, but the overall effect, for me, was positive. (Caveat: I have always been a Gurney fan and have found even his lesser efforts enjoyable.) On Tuesday nights, there are "pay what you can" performances.

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