Cruel Summer: Watching Picnic (for Parterre Box)

Michael Learned In 'The Waltons'

DAVID FOX: Well, Cameron, we are continuing our B-Inge Watch: that is, a survey of the American playwright who once seemed, for better or worse, to be the great follower of Tennessee Williams. And I note that we’re proceeding in chronological order, moving from Come Back, Little Sheba—Inge’s first Broadway play—to Picnic, his second… and probably the play for which he’s most remembered.

CAMERON KELSALL: Picnic won Inge his sole Pulitzer Prize for Drama; the original Broadway production, under Joshua Logan’s Tony-winning direction, featured a Who’s Who of mid-century stage talent (Kim Stanley, Janice Rule, Ralph Meeker, Eileen Heckart and, in his Main Stem debut, Paul Newman.) But that production itself wasn’t a happy experience for the playwright—he succumbed to pressures to soften some of the material’s darker undertones, including an original unhappy ending—and while the play has endured, it hasn’t really achieved the same canonical status of works by Williams or Arthur Miller. Summer Brave, an earlier draft of the play that went unproduced during Inge’s lifetime, closed after a two-week run in New York in 1975. Two subsequent Broadway revivals of Picnic, in 1994 and 2013, were flops…

Read the full review at Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, PARTERRE BOX, Theater

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