Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July, a Poignant and Comic Drama at Lex Theatre
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The last date listed for Fifth of July was Friday June 10, 2011 / 8:00pm.
Quotes & Highlights
Fifth of July is part of the Talley Trilogy of plays, all revolving around the Talley family of Lebanon, Missouri. The other plays are Talley’s Folly and Talley & Son.
Directed by August Viverito
Both surprisingly timely and entertaining, critics have hailed Fifth of July as “a major work by one of the theater’s most important and celebrated writers, …alternately funny and moving.”
Set in 1977, the story deals with a group of old friends and the changes that have occurred in their lives and attitudes in the years since they were antiwar activists in Berkeley. Ken lost his legs in Vietnam and is now considering abandoning his house, his career as a teacher and possibly his devoted lover, Jed Jenkins, for a life of isolating travel. Ken’s sister, June Talley, has arrived in a state of high defensiveness, while heiress and aspiring rock star Gwen and her husband/manager, John Landis, simply seem high. Then there’s Weston Hurley, the spacey, childlike composer, as well as Sally Friedman, Ken’s aunt, and Shirley Talley, June’s daughter, who respectively embody the foibles of advancing age and narcissistic youth. They have ostensibly gathered at Ken’s rambling family homestead in Lebanon, Mo., for the Fourth of July, but as the play hurtles forward, questions about motives start to arise.
As the night of the 4th segues into the morning of the 5th, with the attendant physical and psychic hangovers, Lanford Wilson achieves a telling, rhythmic pattern of the stings and comforts exchanged by people of long acquaintance and the ways in which they do and do not know one another. Even among friends, manners and postures are worn protectively, from Ken’s hard-won flippancy to John’s jocular bonhomie.
When the masks start to slip, as masks will when people share a space for too long, emotional fireworks follow. Like all the best playwrights, Wilson also hears what’s unspoken. This production invites you to listen to the sounds beneath the fury of its combustible characters.