Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone? presents, in a kaleidoscopic range of scenes and tonalities, one young man’s rebellion against a materialistic, oppressively regulated world, a world fiercely intolerant of any deviation from the norm and dedicated to the systematic elimination of individual self-expression. An antihero both charming and terrifying, Tommy Flowers careens through the play’s two acts in an exuberant one-man assault on the soggy American pieties, stifling conventions, and assorted forces of conformity that he has faced as a boy in the 1950’s and as a young adult in the more confusing, volatile 1960’s. His only rule is unruliness.

Like one of his heroes, Holden Caulfield, Tommy has a keen sense of the phony, and he rages against the fraudulent wherever he finds it: in supermarkets, on film screens, in family living rooms. He hates advertising for its prostitution of literature to sell Lorna Doon cookies; he loathes star chasers, geriatric groupies, and movie magazines for their reduction of life to lurid tabloid headlines; he despises the suburban family for its complacent celebration of therapists and orthopedists and color television. So he hurls his defiance at an unforgiving world, joyously taking drugs, engaging in sex at any opportunity, shoplifting everything from radios to recordings of Beethoven symphonies. “America’s a rich country; it can afford me,” he cries, stuffing some more lamb chops down his trousers....

(The entire section is 553 words.)