The House Of Blue Leaves
Guare has achieved fame with plays such as Six Degrees of Separation
, & The House of Blue Leaves
continues the recurring style of comic invention with a rather cruel theme of sensing failure to reach one’s goals. The House of Blue Leaves
has been a major commercial draw while also raking in critics’ plaudits for its earlier productions, & its latest Broadway stint has received great attention.
The play is set in October 1965 in Sunnyside, Queens when Pope Paul IV visits New York. Zookeeper & aspiring songwriter Artie Shaughnessy plays his quite horrid Tin Pan Alley ditties at local amateur nights, & he masks the rotten response by telling himself that he’s “too old to be a young talent”. The city fervently welcomes the papal parade, as the Pope is on a mission to visit the UN & make a plea to end the Vietnam War. Artie, in his undying quest to become famous, has already rung up a few friends to open doors for him in Hollywood. These include director & former neighbor Billy Einhorn. The plan is to commit his catatonic & schizophrenic wife Bananas to a mental institution & run off with his lover & upstairs neighbor Bunny to California to try & wheedle his way into Hollywood. He is crushed by his woeful zookeeper life, & although his love for Bananas runs deep, he has to forego it in order to pursue his lofty dreams. As Artie & Bunny hurry to get their blessings for the union, he learns of shocking news. Ronnie, his son with Bananas, has gone AWOL from basic training & managed to create an almighty bomb that will annihilate the pope & bring Ronnie’s name into the headlines. Einhorn’s deaf former actress girlfriend Corrinna, who lost her hearing in an accident on set, turns up at the Shaughnessy residence, & ends up losing her hearing aid. She then proceeds to act as though her hearing is unimpaired, while her shallow character is there for all to see. Three nuns from Ridgewood also climb through the Shaughnessy’s window to watch the televised papal coverage, completing the mad picture. It is a stark moment of reflection that in that instant, Bananas’ pill-suppressed, barking, passive-aggressive unhinged self is in fact the only sane voice in the room.
The House of Blue Leaves
is a trademark work of John Guare, the New York playwright whose black satirical comedies often hinged around the fickle nature of fame, the attraction of which held sway over the everyday lives of people. Mel Shapiro was the director of the original The House of Blue Leaves
production, & it followed his working partnership with Guare as a director & co-writer of some of his plays, including Two Gentlemen of Verona
& Bosoms & Neglect
. The first premier was on February 10, 1971, starring Frank Converse & Harold Gould, & played off-Broadway at the Truck & Warehouse Theater for 337 highly acclaimed performances.
The House of Blue Leaves
is perhaps best remembered for its 1986 Broadway revival which starred Swoosie Kurtz, John Mahoney & a young debutant Ben Stiller. Directed by Jerry Zaks, it started off-Broadway but transferred to play in Broadway’s Vivian Beaumont & Plymouth Theaters. Zaks, Mahoney & Kurtz picked up Tony Awards, also joined by Tony Walton for scenic design, & the haul also included four further nominations. The production also won three Drama Desk Awards. The current production at the Walter Kerr Theater has received a lot of praise for the strong performances by Stiller & Falco.
Fans with The House of Blue Leaves tickets
have been inspired by the comedy’s blend with sinking realism. In a world where man creates & destroys deities at will, sacrificing the present for a blind shot at fame is a foolhardy idea. The House of Blue Leaves tickets
are flying off shelves as theatre enthusiasts lap up this latest snippet of witty satire.