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Four Short Plays

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PRINCESS REBECCA BIRNBAUM. In the living room of the Birnbaum's Bronx apartment, Rebecca's mother, her married sister and her piano teacher wait eagerly for Rebecca's appearance in the dress she has chosen for her first prom. When she whirls in they are distressed to find that she has picked an ultra-simple white frock, which may complement her natural, fresh charm but, in their view, does nothing to "gild the lily." First they suggest a little make-up here and there—which leads to mascara, false eyelashes and a ...
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Overview

PRINCESS REBECCA BIRNBAUM. In the living room of the Birnbaum's Bronx apartment, Rebecca's mother, her married sister and her piano teacher wait eagerly for Rebecca's appearance in the dress she has chosen for her first prom. When she whirls in they are distressed to find that she has picked an ultra-simple white frock, which may complement her natural, fresh charm but, in their view, does nothing to "gild the lily." First they suggest a little make-up here and there—which leads to mascara, false eyelashes and a total obliteration of Rebecca's girlish complexion. Then a few other touches are pressed on the reluctant girl: a bright colored sash, a bunch of artificial flowers, a high fashion red wig to cover her "too plain," carefully combed hairdo. The final touch is her mother's mink stole, and then Rebecca turns nervously to greet her escort, transformed into her well-meaning family's idea of a young girl of taste and status. But her boyfriend has also gone through the same ordeal. Whereas he too had agreed that simplicity was to be the keynote, he turns up with a pink tuxedo jacket, a plaid cummerbund, patent leather shoes and a bunch of red roses sprayed white for the occasion. (1 man, 4 women.) MAKE LIKE A DOG. To relieve the tedium of their childless suburban existence, Elvira suggests that Stanley should have a hobby—but what he wants is a dog, and this Elvira will not allow in their spotless, dust-free house. But, to humor him, she agrees to make-believe that she is a dog—and he its master—barking and rolling over as directed. Then Stanley takes his turn, and the game begins to be more farcical and yet, at the same time, rather menacing and even cruel. Behind their anticbehavior there are hints of resentments and frustrations, and the threat of ugliness and disorder should the game get out of hand. So it is abandoned, somewhat sheepishly, and Stanley and Elvira retreat to their former, more normal behavior, where boredom leads only to talk, rather than the disquieting risks that action can bring. (1 man, 1 woman.) SUBURBAN TRAGEDY. Bored with the routine of suburban housekeeping, Mrs. Goldman has taken a summer English course—and has fallen in love with her instructor, Mr. Stein, a soft-spoken, highly intelligent young man who has opened her eyes to the joy of learning. After the final exam, Mrs. Goldman and Mr. Stein at last have a moment alone and, overcoming her reserve, Mrs. Goldman draws him into a conversation that becomes increasingly personal and impassioned, as Mrs. Goldman confesses her loneliness, her sense of futility, and the desires that Mr. Stein has aroused within her. Touched, but reluctant to encourage her, Mr. Stein does however admit that his own life has not been without problems. But while their mutual unhappiness is real to both of them it does not, and cannot, draw them together—and they part with the bittersweet knowledge that their differences are too great to be reconciled in a clandestine affair. (1 man, 1 woman.) YOUNG MARRIEDS AT PLAY. Joe and Adam, two boyhood friends who grew up together in the slums, meet by chance and decide to get together, with their wives, for a social evening. But the pleasant memories of old times are soon submerged in the differences the years have brought. Joe is now a teacher, married to a rich wife who also teaches, and drawn to drinking more than he should. Adam, still a rough diamond, and given to remarks which are offensive to Joe's wife, works in his father-in-law's furniture store and vents his frustrations on his inane but long-suffering wife, Ava. Their evening of Monopoly turns into a trial for all as the game becomes a source of selfish triumph for the loutish Adam, and his wife's attempts to make him behave trigger off outbursts of invective and even physical violence. But the strains that underlie the marriage of Joe and Ruth are also felt—in Joe's drinking, in Ruth's snide patronizing of her husband's friend, and in the discomfort they experience in living amidst the luxury provided by her father's money. As the evening progresses the antagonisms and near-hatreds that assail both marriages surge forward with increasing dramatic thrust, subsiding, as the couples part, to a kind of armed truce—troubled, uncertain, and fraught with peril for the future. (2 men, 2 women.)
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Editorial Reviews

NY Herald-Tribune
In a remarkably few lines, he lets us see where his people come from, what they are doing, and where they are going. What is more difficult, he makes us interested in all three.
NY Post
Deft and original...a new talent worth watching.
NY Times
...has bite, pith, humor and relevance, with its four characters sharply drawn and very human.
NY World-Telegram & Sun
...he writes with real wit, and he manages to involve the audience in the problems and the fate of his characters.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822206071
  • Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/1967
  • Pages: 81
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.68 (h) x 0.24 (d)

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