AUGUSTA PLAYED by Kelly Cherry


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Consistently dizzy and probably too cute by half, this comedy/vaudeville of marriage … la mode nevertheless shows Cherry off as a lively, smart entertainer. Norman Gold, Jewish son of a Brooklyn judge, is doing a doctorate in cultural musicology at Columbia in 1966 when he meets Augusta, a lovely blond flutist from North Carolina. They marry. Judge Gold, over on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, is not pleased about the ""shiksa""; he cuts Norman out of his will, and forces Norman to blackmail Pop in order to shoehorn himself back into his inheritance. This involves a round of mistresses, adulteries, mistaken identities and assumptions--frothy farce which culminates in Augusta's debut recital at Town Hall with everyone and everything on stage. (The Times' music critic thinks it's all intentional, raving over this ""purposefully chaotic 'happening' illustrative of the musical mood of the radical avant-garde."") Cherry (Sick and Full of Burning) has a virtuoso's weakness for the fine sentence--but most of these are fine enough to win us over, too. She quite nicely captures the invisible ""overfulness"" of a young marriage: ""He spoke so eloquently, collapsing Flatbush and Freud in a dialect which she found endlessly fascinating, that she began to rely on his explications of her moods, for entertainment. . . . It was like watching herself on a wide screen."" A messy, unbalanced romp, then, which stays crisp out of sheer bounce.

Pub Date: March 12th, 1979
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin