Playwright Wilson's treatment of the psychological trauma faced by many veterans was one of the first theatrical explorations of the topic. And his treatment of the relationship between Ken and his lover was not only rare, but so controversial that many early reviewers could not even mention it.
Lanford Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Talley's Folly is small, involving only one 40-ish man, one 30-ish woman and some 90 minutes of interplay between them. Their personal chemistry, along with the external realms that that the play explores, are things of theatrical beauty.
Episodes of cruelty, humiliation, struggle and resilience punctuate the narrative, delivered most often with the innocence and bewilderment of a child, and generating laugh after laugh, before reflection.
Race, sex, three thorny relationships, dubious truths: Schematically, that's the spine of Neil Labute's taut but hollow play, which is receiving a riveting production in its West Coast debut at Aurora.
Fifty-five years later, at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre, The Arsonists has resurfaced as a sizzling triumph of theatricality, and a wake-up call to any who choose to be awakened. It carries a simple but profound warning: Ignore or appease destructive forces at your own peril.
Playwright Anthony Clarvoe credits Anton Chekhov with providing much of the inspiration for his drama Our Practical Heaven, which is receiving its world premiere at Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. It's doubtful that the Russian master would be flattered.
In the late 1950s Thornton Wilder started a project that was to become a series of short plays depicting the fabled Seven Ages of Man. The first two works, Infancy and Childhood, sparkle on Aurora Theatre's intimate stage in Berkeley.
The play uses professional wrestling as a metaphor for all sorts of perceived American sins, and treats promoters and athletes alike as partners in a flashy scam whose spectacles separate enthralled and willing suckers from their cash.
Mark Jackson's Salomania,is debuting with its world premiere at Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. Jackson carries the tale from the trenches of France to Old Bailey to taverns, bedrooms and other venues with remarkable fluidity and force.