Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves Combines Comedy with Horror (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Some drama critics were baffled by John Guare’s play because of its mixture of comedy and pain and its nonrepresentational style, but many still saw it as a significant dramatic statement.
Summary of Event
After some modest success with such plays as Muzeeka (1967) and Cop-Out (1968), John Guare attracted the attention of the American theatergoing public with the first production of The House of Blue Leaves, not only because of the blackness of the play’s comedy but also because of the originality of its style, which left audiences confused, disturbed, and intrigued.
The play is a devastating farce set in the apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, New York, of an Irish Catholic family on October 4, 1965, the day of the Pope’s visit to New York to speak before the United Nations on the subject of world peace. In order to get from the airport to Manhattan, the Pope must pass through Queens, and the streets outside the apartment are full of local residents and others who are excited over the prospect of getting a glimpse of the Pope. Artie Shaughnessy, the middle-aged head of the household, works as a zookeeper, but his real passion is for songwriting. Artie’s wife, Bananas, has gone insane, and Artie wants to commit her to a mental hospital, the “house” of the title, so that he can then be free to travel to Hollywood with his mistress and downstairs neighbor,...
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