Christopher (Ferdinand) Durang 1949–
American dramatist and lyricist.
Christopher Durang's plays satirize—sometimes with affection, sometimes with derision—the clichés and absurdities of daily life within the contexts of such disparate subjects as great literature in The Idiots Karamazov (1974); psychiatry in Beyond Therapy (1981); "serious" drama in The Vietnamization of New Jersey (1977); and Catholicism in the 1981 Obie award-winning Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You (1979). His only Broadway production, A History of the American Film (1979), uses two hundred movie moments to burlesque sixty years of filmmaking. Durang's treatments are also diverse, ranging in tone from musical spoof or tongue-in-cheek farce to bitter ridicule. In one play his voice is that of the disillusioned Catholic, demanding, "If God is all-powerful, why does He allow evil?" and in another his persona is a dancing vegetable in a Busby Berkeley musical, singing "We're in a Salad."
Critics generally agree that Durang's principal stylistic weaknesses are his unsatisfactory endings and his preference for accentuating the joke rather than the issue, thus lessening the impact of his message. His alterations of classics into travesties have resulted in critical reception which has covered the spectrum from "witty and scholarly" to "lightweight and smartalecky." Durang concedes that among both critics and theater patrons are some who will be offended by his irreverence; yet, he intends not to affront but to continue to interpret "the nature and purpose of the universe."
(See also Contemporary Authors, Vol. 105.)