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The Pain and the Itch

The Pain and the Itch
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Bruce Norris
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 76
Pub. Date: 2007
ISBN-10: 0822222051
ISBN-13: 9780822222057
Cast Size: 3 women, 3 men, 1 girl

About the Play:

The Pain and the Itch is a full-length comedic drama by Bruce Norris. With a young daughter in serious need of attention and a ravenous creature possibly prowling the upstairs bedrooms, what begins as an average Thanksgiving for one privileged family unravels into an exposé of disastrous choices and less-than-altruistic motives. The Pain and the Itch is a satire of liberal suburbanites so focused on their correctness they don't perceive the rot in their own house.

The Pain and the Itch is a crackling satire that takes dead aim at the self-satisfied, left-leaning American upper-middle class and its many self-delusions. On a winter afternoon, Kelly and Clay – an attractive, prosperous, seemingly happy couple with a four-year-old daughter and a newborn baby – must explain to a visitor the events of the previous Thanksgiving, on which, so it seems, someone or something had been gnawing at the avocados on their kitchen table. In the course of this holiday gathering – attended by Clay's mother, a well-meaning but clueless first-grade teacher who spouts pointless liberal bromides; his brother, a plastic surgeon with a nihilistic streak and a taste for martinis; and his brother's girlfriend, a sexy Balkan immigrant with a love for all things American (racism included) – the recent past is unearthed along with revelations of failed marriages, fraternal hatred, infidelity and venereal disease, in the form of their daughter's nasty genital infection. And it's a comedy. As the story is gradually unfolded to their visitor, a Muslim cab driver, his relationship to the events becomes increasingly clear, as does the emptiness of the family's supposed benevolence and sensitivity. The Pain and the Itch is a scathing satire of the politics of class and race, a controversial, painfully human examination of denial and its consequences.

The Pain and the Itch premiered in 2005 at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago before a sold-out run off-Broadway in 2006 at Playwrights Horizons. It was first performed in the UK in 2007 at the Royal Court Theatre in London. The play has been performed in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 3 women, 3 men, 1 girl

What people say:

"The best new play in many a season. There are heady, farcical peaks to this comedy that approach the manic genius of Preston Sturges. But Mr. Norris' real target is that great sentimental sham, the idealized American family." — New York Observer

"One of the most satisfying theatrical events available today…Norris writes with a mind that is attuned to the blindness that passes for a shared vision among the emotionally smug and upwardly mobile." — The New Yorker

"A smashing new satire…Norris' uncompromising, cagily crafted cockfight all but leaves blood on the stage." — Time Out Chicago

"Playgoers hungry for smart, vicious drama will feel like an itch has been scratched." — Time Out New York

"A brilliantly satirical piece that gleefully skewers the values of the impeccably liberal rich... a terrifically entertaining, sometimes disturbing play that asks uncomfortable questions about the way the West lives now." — Daily Telegraph

"A latter-day variation of Ibsen's Ghosts, with the bonus of good jokes." — Observer

"Satires seldom come so dark, nor tragedies so hilarious... The writing has a whiplash ferocity and a poisonous sense of humour... the ultimate American family play." — Sunday Times

About the Playwright:

Bruce Norris is an American actor and Pultzer Prize-winning playwright who has on ongoing collaboration with Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago. He is also the recipient of the Steinberg Playwright Award and the Whiting Foundation Prize for Drama, as well as two Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best New Work. He currently resides in New York.

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