Albee in an Hour
Part of a nifty new series of bite-sized primers covering playwrights from Sophocles and the ancient Greeks, through Shakespeare, the moderns (e.g., Chekhov), to today's contemporaries (e.g., Mamet and Wasserstein), this title on Edward Albee possesses a useful balance in situating Albee's background and legacy. Director and academic Choate (Kean Univ., N.J.) has drawn especially from Mel Gussow's 1999 biography as well as numerous interviews with the playwright over his long life (born 1928) to offer a lively, nonjudgmental look at his career: early adoption by a wealthy conventional Westchester couple, flunking out of college and taking up with the Bohemian crowd in Greenwich Village, and immersing himself in dizzying realms of experimental theater, alcoholism, and homosexuality. The Zoo Story, which ""spawned an entire generation of park-bench plays,"" launched both him as an exciting new playwright and Off-Broadway as a viable alternative venue. The American Dream and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf followed in quick succession, establishing this iconoclast of middle-class illusions as the ""playwright of his generation."" After a tidy résumé, each of these accessible pocket titles provides ""dramatic moments"" from the author's major plays so that actors and teachers can find a quick brush up.