Lydie Breeze was a turning point in John Guare’s career. It was a departure from the mixture of farce and savage satire that characterized his most successful previous works, such as Muzeeka (pr. 1967, pb. 1969) and The House of Blue Leaves (pr., pb. 1971). While Guare had always been concerned with the corruption at the heart of American culture and with the related loss of ideals, he tended to attack these issues through farcical plots, bizarre characters, and fiercely ironic dialogue. The House of Blue Leaves, for example, which remains one of his greatest critical and popular successes, partly as a result of a revival in the 1980’s, concerns a plot to blow up the pope and involves a weird collection of characters, including a zookeeper, three nuns, a film producer, and women named Bananas and Bunny. Guare acknowledges the influence of Georges Feydeau in his plotting of the play, which is a masterpiece of black comedy. Marco Polo Sings a Solo (pr. 1973, pb. 1977) and Landscape of the Body (pr. 1977, pb. 1978) make use of science fiction and the detective story, while many other plays (including Muzeeka and The House of Blue Leaves) make extensive use of song.
With his acclaimed screenplay for Louis Malle’s film Atlantic City (1981), however, Guare began to move further toward realism (though he claims that The House of Blue Leaves is a realistic play) and a...
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