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The Pushcart Peddlers, The Flatulist and Other Plays

The Pushcart Peddlers, The Flatulist and Other Plays
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Murray Schisgal
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0822209233
ISBN-13: 9780822209232

About the Play:

The Pushcart Peddlers, The Flatulist and Other Plays is a short play collection by Murray Schisgal. A quintet of diverting and characteristically inventive plays by one of American theatre's most successful writers. You don't have to be Jewish or from New York to understand the underlying themes, the irony, and the humour which tie these plays together. Varied in mood and style, the plays provide a well-balanced program, but may be produced individually with equal effectiveness.

The first play, The Pushcart Peddlers, is an immigrant story of struggle, love, and the ascent into the American dream. Fresh off-the-boat-greenhorn, Shimmel, on his first day in the United States, meets a canny, fast-talking banana peddler, Cornelius, and is inveigled into buying his pushcart business. Life moves fast in America and so do both men's illusions – for better, or is it for worse? Complications arise when Cornelius returns with another pushcart and proceeds to compete with Shimmel at the same location and when Shimmel is smitten by Maggie, a flower seller who aspires to become a musical comedy star. Learning quickly to adapt, Shimmel tries to make her believe he's a producer. But Maggie didn't get off Ellis Island yesterday and as the amusing piece progresses it's not easy to tell who's conning who. (Cast: 1 woman, 2 men)

The second play, The Flatulist, is a black comedy gem in which Gregory, the son of a once famous comedian, confronts his father's longtime agent and pleads for a chance to demonstrate the rather bizarre "act" he has perfected. As the two parry and thrust, the deep-seated antagonism Gregory feels for his father's exploiter is revealed and then, in the surprising finale, suitably avenged. (Cast: 2 men)

The third play, A Simple Kind Of Love Story, is a brilliantly inventive riches-to-rags saga in which a young writer is overwhelmed with flattery, gifts and promises of fortune by a high pressure agent and then, just as quickly, reduced to quivering uncertainty and suicide when it appears that his creative juices have run dry. (Cast: 2 women, 3 men)

In the fourth play, Little Johnny, we meet two cemetery caretakers, Mary and Tom, who lament the death of their sailor son, Little Johnny, and decide to create a proper chapel for him by looting the graves in their care. The project soon takes them over, reviving the passion that has dwindled between them, and so absorbing them that when Johnny (who has not drowned) suddenly returns they can no longer accept him and must drive him away once and for all. (Cast: 1 woman, 2 men)

In the final play, Walter, the scene is a funeral parlour, where Laura Katz has come to view the body of her late husband, Walter. As it happens, Walter was a chronic philanderer and Laura, as her cruelly funny comments make clear, deserted him. It also develops that the funeral director, Norbe, is not above "playing around" a bit himself – which offers Laura a chance to repay Walter in his own coin. (Cast: 1 woman, 1 man)

About the Playwright:

Murray Schisgal is a Tony and Academy Award nominated American playwright and screenwriter best known for co-writing the screenplay for Tootsie. He attended Brooklyn Law School from which he graduated in 1953. He practised law until 1956 and then taught English for three years. He has an extensive career spanning writing plays, novels, anthologies, science fiction, and play producing. He has a star on the Playwrights Sidewalk for Off-Broadway Achievement in New York. He has also produced several films and television programs.

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