I review two shows in today’s Wall Street Journal drama column, one in New York, one out of town, both favorably.
A.R. Gurney’s new play, Indian Blood, just opened off Broadway at Primary Stages:
Like most of Mr. Gurney’s plays, “Indian Blood” is peopled with white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who are variously conscious of their loss of cultural ascendancy. Here as in “Ancestral Voices,” the 1999 play to which it is a companion piece, the WASPs in question are actual members of the Gurney family, and the story is a wry semi-autobiographical vignette in which Eddie (Charles Socarides), the youthful narrator, draws a dirty picture, passes it around to his classmates, and promptly runs afoul of the Law of Unintended Consequences when a priggish relation (Jeremy Blackman) threatens to show it to his genteel grandmother (Pamela Payton-Wright).
Unlike “Ancestral Voices,” which began as a book and evolved into a staged reading, “Indian Blood” is a full-fledged play performed, like “Our Town,” without a set or props, a self-evident fact that the narrator (Charles Socarides) calls to our attention so often that it becomes annoying (once would have been more than enough). Save for this sole lapse of taste, it’s a sweet little tale with overtones of rue that recall the novels of John P. Marquand….
No less pleasing was my visit to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival:
When the thermometer closes in on the century mark, wise New Yorkers head north. I recommend a day trip to the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival to see Terrence O’Brien’s joyously dotty outdoor production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” staged in the style of “3rd Rock From the Sun,” complete with space invaders and a flying saucer. Mr. O’Brien, the festival’s founder and artistic director, isn’t overly concerned with thematic consistency, and his “Midsummer Night’s Dream” also contains such interpolations as a dance routine choreographed by Lisa Reinhart in which Titania (Nance Williamson) leads the cast in a frenzied mambo, lip-syncing to the music of Yma S