Set in fictional Dublin, Missouri, the home state of playwright Lanford Wilson, Book of Days poses the question: is small-town America as superficial and vacuous as this play suggests?
Heaven forbid that a Pulitzer Prize winner is criticised, but Wilson has certainly taken on some weighty themes (small-town hypocrisy; moral degeneracy; greed; the religious right) and it is less certain how profoundly he’s managed to explore them. For example, the plotting of two murders is clunky.
Despite this, an energetic performance from a skilled cast and crew makes the most of the material, and the first-night audience certainly enjoyed themselves – applauding generously.
In particular, the off-hand delivery of Gael Ballantyne (Martha Hoch) is warming, and the character has a critical warning on the potential embarrassment caused by feminine piercings when passing through airport security! (MMu)
Until Aug 9, New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown, $17-32, (02) 9519 3403, newtheatre.org.au
BY MICHAEL MUIR