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The Cocktail Hour

The Cocktail Hour
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: A.R. Gurney
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 1977
Pub. Date: 1989
ISBN-10: 0822202255
ISBN-13: 9780822202257
Cast Size: 2 women, 2 men

About the Play:

Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award as Best Off-Broadway Play.

The Cocktail Hour is a full-length comedy by A.R. Gurney. Mix two upper-class New Englanders, their over-privileged adult children and endless cocktails for a delightfully intoxicating evening of comedy when a playwright reveals his next work is going to be about his family. His parents are "shaken and stirred" while his sister is offended that she only has a minor role! Funny and moving in equal measure, The Cocktail Hour is an entertaining family reunion "on the rocks."

The Cocktail Hour is set in the mid 1970s, in upstate New York. John, a playwright, returns to his family's house, bringing with him a new play which he has written about them. His purpose is to obtain their permission to proceed with production, but his wealthy, very proper parents are cautious from the outset. For them the theatre is personified by the gracious, comforting era of the Lunts and Ina Claire, and they are disturbed by the bluntness of modern plays. And there is also John's sister, Nina, to contend with, although her reservations have to do with the fact that John has given her character such a minor role. Their confrontation takes place during the ritual of the cocktail hour, and as the martinis flow so do the recriminations and revelations, both hysterically funny and heartbreakingly poignant. In the end it is evident that what John has written is closer to the truth than his family has heretofore been willing to admit, and that beneath their WASP reserve his parents and siblings are as beset with uncertainties and frustrations as their presumed "inferiors." But while they seem shackled by the past, and tantalized by an alien future, the ties which bind them do prevail – surmounting disputes and disappointments and, with unfailing warmth and humour, converting pained resignation into cautious but hopeful anticipation. A long-run New York success, The Cocktail Hour is a witty, perceptive play that blends mordant humour with moments of affecting poignancy.

The Cocktail Hour premiered in 1988 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California. The play premiered in New York City in 1988 at the Off Broadway Promenade Theatre and won the Lucille Lortel Award as Best Off-Broadway Play. It has been produced widely in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 women, 2 men

What people say:

"The Cocktail Hour is as funny and moving as The Dining Room…it could be the best play he has done so far." — The New Yorker

"It makes for a deliciously funny and also occasionally touching evening, as Gurney's family sit around raking over old coals and settling old scores with a quite new and beguiling freshness." — New York Post

"The lines in the play crackle and pop with an electricity all their own." — Drama-Logue

"…when I watch Gurney at his best, as he is here, I laugh through the tears." — New York Daily News

About the Playwright:

A.R. Gurney (1930-2017) is known as one of the most prolific and produced playwrights in America. His work focuses primarily on the issues and realities of middle-class American life and has been produced on international theatre stages for more than 50 years. He is also the author of three novels and a two-time Pulitzer Prize for Drama nominee, the recipient of the Drama Desk Award, and the Award of Merit from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.