Theatre on the Edge: New Visions, New Voices: Cloth Book

Mel Gussow, Author
Mel Gussow, Author Applause Books $29.95 (458p) ISBN 978-1-55783-311-2
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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One of the most perceptive voices in American theater, New York Times drama critic Gussow writes with a sense of theatrical history and a passionate engagement about theater as a vehicle for raising social consciousness. In this bracing collection of his reviews and essays from the mid-1970s to the present, he ferrets out adventurous playwrights and directors who have revitalized the American stage, such as David Mamet, Sam Shepard, Albert Innaurato and Robert Wilson. His reviews are pithy and fair, zeroing in on a production's strengths and weaknesses. Although his appraisals may strike some readers as overly generous toward self-styled avant-garde pieces such as Richard Foreman's semi-absurdist extravaganzas or performance artist Karen Finley's confrontational politics, Gussow's openness to new directions enables him to spot and explicate innovations such as Shepard's psychodramas, Eric Overmyer's linguistic pyrotechnics and director Peter Brook's experimental adaptations of classics. This roundup displays tremendous diversity, ranging from reviews of works by Chekhov, Shakespeare, Pinter and Harvey Fierstein to one-person shows (Whoopi Goldberg, Calvin Trillin), street theater and circuses. (May)
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