Joy Ride: Show People and Their Shows

John Lahr. Norton, $27.95 (576p) ISBN 978-0-393-24640-7
Former New Yorker drama critic Lahr (Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh) spotlights more brilliantly neurotic theater personalities in his latest incisive, exuberant collection of pieces from the magazine. His journalistic profiles of playwrights and directors, including Arthur Miller, David Mamet, Tony Kushner, Neil Labute, Harold Pinter, Ingmar Bergman, and Mike Nichols, map the deep plumes of upwelling anxiety and obsession that drive their art, linking the antiheroes in the plays to their creators’ latent hostility, desperate need for control, and persecution complexes, and thence to their issues with weak or rivalrous fathers, cold or histrionic mothers, childhood humiliations, and miscellaneous scars from the family snake pit. Through lively, sympathetic interviews with his subjects and probing interpretations of their works, Lahr sketches their personalities, assesses their effects on the theater scene, and explores motifs—the corrosive effects of atomized individualism, the impossibility of communication and connection—that pervade their work. Sprinkled in are reviews of landmark productions of the last few decades that mix shrewd studies of characters and themes—“It is existence, not success, that eludes” Death of a Salesman’s Willy Loman, he writes—with rapt evocations of acting and staging. Lahr’s vivid reportage, trenchant insight, and infectious love of the stage will remind readers just how exciting modern theater can be. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015
Release date: 09/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-0-393-24637-7
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-393-35323-5
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