Children, though a lesser known-play by A.R. Gurney is nonetheless quintessential Gurney in that it focuses on precisely the subject that made his reputation (along with his innate talent as a dramatist): the examination of the WASP culture from which he sprang as if it were an ethnicity. This one, revived by TACT at Theatre Row, is about a mother and her four grown siblings, only three of whom appear onstage. The issue over which they tangle is the ultimate disposition of the family home, once mom, a widow, moves out to remarry. Under the direction of Scott Allan Evans, it’s WASP-ily low-key yet dramatic and terribly well done by a perfectly tuned ensemble, Darrie Lawrence, Margaret Nichols, Lynn Wright and Richard Thierot. Previously, I almost always found offerings by the revival-specialist TACT group, both their full productions and readings, to be anywhere from mildly to notably academic in their delivery—even those that I’ve admired—but not in this case. Something about Children—perhaps the deceptive reserve of the WASP culture as dramatized by Gurney—has triggered an alchemical response to the material, inspiring the gestalt of the company to exploit all the strengths of its sensibility. Children may not be the best play TACT has ever revived, but I think the play may have inspired the best work, and the best production, I’ve ever seen from the company.
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