THE PLAYS OF ARNOLD WESKER: Volume 2 by Arnold Weaker


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British-Jewish-socialist Wesker, known in America primarily for Chips With Everything and The Kitchen (among the contents of Vol. 1), dedicates The Four Seasons--the first of the five 1966-1974 plays here--""to Cuba."" It is, however, not a political piece but rather a poetical two-character duologue of romantic love and private pain; ""I believe the absence of love diminishes and distorts ali action"" is how Wesker, in an epilogue, aligns the play with socialist principles. (Far more interestingly, an apple strudel is made in the course of the action, and Wesker, once a pastry cook, includes detailed notes on this ""dramatic"" process.) Their Very Own and Golden City offers more expectable Wesker subjects--the Labour movement, trade unions, town planning--in an unusual form, beginning in 1926 and flashing forward to the 1940s and the future. Menace is a television script about neighboring apartment-dwellers (neurotic youths, an old woman going blind); The Friends are the politically and culturally engaged talkers who go on ""singing, plotting, loving"" while one of them quietly dies, her body becoming an icon and a stage prop; and The Old Ones ""is essentially about defiant old age,"" with a cast of leading characters who are over 65 and Jewish and angry. Wesker's work travels less well than that of many of his compatriots--his sensitivity to class barriers becomes a transatlantic barrier--but the energy and compassion and charging dialogues can be tremendously compelling.

Pub Date: May 18th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row