The play opens in a brightly lit hospital room occupied by two men. One, the amiable Budge, does Tai Chi exercises while trying, without much success, to strike up a conversation with his taciturn roommate, Wyatt. Then, slowly but inexorably, their world begins to spin away from reality as they are visited by a series of fellow patients and hospital staffers, all of whom, it turns out, may not be what they seem. Oddly normal, but also oddly frightening, it is soon apparent that they have strayed in from the ...
The play opens in a brightly lit hospital room occupied by two men. One, the amiable Budge, does Tai Chi exercises while trying, without much success, to strike up a conversation with his taciturn roommate, Wyatt. Then, slowly but inexorably, their world begins to spin away from reality as they are visited by a series of fellow patients and hospital staffers, all of whom, it turns out, may not be what they seem. Oddly normal, but also oddly frightening, it is soon apparent that they have strayed in from the psychiatric ward of the adjacent Arno Klein Wing, and are all quite mad. In the second act, which is set in the day room of the psychiatric ward, the same performers reappear, but with different identities. Some of them, claiming to be actors, transform the room into a tacky motel suite in which a play-within-the-play is to take place; others become tourists searching for the renowned "Arno Klein Theater Company"; and one man, strait-jacketed and tied in a chair, "becomes" a television set. At last Arno Klein himself appears, and proves to be the man (Budge) who started the play. So, in the end, we have come full circle, with appearance and reality, madness and normality, still tantalizingly undefined, and with the growing conviction that all the world may indeed be no more than a stage—and all its inhabitants merely players.
THE DAY ROOM is an intellectual mystery, a metaphysical comedy, and absurdist riddle.
Heller, Mamet, Beckett, Shepard, Stoppard. These names and others are apt to occur to the reader of this fascinating new play. . . . Certainly its suggestions about conceptions of madness and reality will haunt any reader who has ever spent time somewhere being subject to others' wills--such as a hospital, as the play says, or an airplane (or, as the reader may decide, a theater audience). A superbly printed example of a natural playwright's work. -- Choice Copyright 1983 The H.W. Wilson Company. All rights reserved.
...a cheerful, often hilariously wicked, commentary on life and death, both seen in terms of a theatrical event.
San Francisco Chronicle
DeLillo gives his characters incisively lunatic commentaries on death, the nature of illness, the hierarchical abuses of power and on reality itself.
Flooring readers with his complex, intelligent evocations of modern-day America and the philosophical challenges of living in it, Don DeLillo swiftly established himself as an important writer. His wide-ranging, somewhat strange novels go less for the emotions than for the reader's very interpretations of reality.
Growing up in his working class Bronx neighborhood in the 1940s and '50s, Don De Lillo was far more interested in sports than in books. A listless student, he did not develop an interest in reading until he was 18 and working a summer job as a parking attendant. Desperate to fill in the long, boring hours of downtime, he discovered the literature of Faulkner, Joyce, and Hemingway. He attended Fordham University and worked in advertising for several years before seriously pursuing a writing career.
When De Lillo's first novel, Americana, was published in 1971, it received modest reviews. Seven books followed over the next 14 years, steadily generating more critical praise but few sales. Then, in 1985, he hit pay dirt with White Noise, a brooding postmodern masterpiece about a Midwestern college professor and his family in the aftermath of an airborne toxic accident. It proved to be De Lillo's breakthrough, earning him both a National Book Award and an avid cult following.
Since then, De Lillo has gone on to produce a string of superb "literary" novels that fairly brim with big ideas yet also capture the essence of contemporary culture in all its infuriating banality. Cited by younger writers like Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace as a major influence, De Lillo remains a reserved and private, albeit gracious and genteel man who seems a bit uncomfortable with fame.
Among the many honors De Lillo has received are the Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize for Libra (1989); the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for Mao II (1991); and the Jerusalem Prize, William Dean Howells Medal, and the Riccardo Bacchelli International Award for his magnum opus Underworld (1997). In addition, three of his novels received high marks on a 2006 survey sponsored by The New York Times to name the single best work of American fiction of the last 25 years.