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The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages
Your Price: $15.95 CDN
Author: A.R. Gurney
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 62
Pub. Date: 1978
ISBN-10: 0822207532
ISBN-13: 9780822207535
Cast Size: 2 women, 2 men

About the Play:

The Middle Ages is a full-length comedy by A.R. Gurney. In the trophy room of a men's club, the rebellious Barney is chafing against the narrow virtues of his family when he professes his undying love for Eleanor. Even Eleanor's marriage to Billy, Barney's brother, can't change how he feels. Over 30 years, Barney and Eleanor's relationship evolves through time – and through flashbacks – in this romantic and poignant play from the author of Love Letters.

The Middle Ages is a bright and warmly humorous portrait of a would-be free spirit, whose turbulent individuality is deftly contrasted against the stodgy background he is determined to escape. It takes place in one room – the trophy room of a rather stuffy men's club in a large Midwestern city and spans the era from the mid-1940s to the late 1970s. As the play begins we meet Barney, the son of the club president, as a teenager – and already a rebel against the WASP-ish virtues so dear to his family. He is infatuated with Eleanor, a local girl of good background, but she is wary of his wildness, and opts to date, and then marry, his straight arrow younger brother, Billy. In a series of flashbacks we encounter Barney at various stages of his life: as he runs away to join the Navy during the Korean war; as a campus activist in California; as a graduate student; and ultimately, as a successful producer of porno films. The flashbacks take Barney and Eleanor from youth to middle age – and throughout Barney, to his father's growing distress, continues to profess his love for Eleanor and to challenge the validity of the lifestyle she has chosen. He remains the zany, charming, unpredictable rebel, shocking family and friends alike with his outrageous behaviour until, at his father's death, a kind of reconciliation is reached – as changing times and fading youth soften Barney's belligerency and offer the promise of quieter, but happier, years to come.

The Middle Ages premiered in 1977 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and was revived Off-Broadway in 1983 at St. Peter's Church in New York City. The play has been performed in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 women, 2 men

What people say:

"As a chronicler of contemporary America's most unfashionable social stratum – upper-middle-class WASP's – this playwright has no current theatrical peer…The Middle Ages often recalls Philip Barry." — New York Times

"It is a most engaging and witty play…Gurney's dramatic taste is impeccable – he works on a small landscape but draws with understanding and compassion." — New York Post

"The Middle Ages is a lovely production…a delightful depiction of the enduring importance of love and friendship, and a sweet redemption story suitable for all ages." — Marin Independent Journal

"I was entertained throughout by The Middle Ages." — San Francisco Bay Times

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.

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