Murray Schisgal Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Murray Schisgal has published the novel Days and Nights of a French Horn Player (1980) and has written television plays, The Love Song of Barney Kempenski (1966) and Natasha Kovolina Pipishinsky (1976), and an expanded version of his one-act play The Tiger, which was produced as a screenplay, The Tiger Makes Out (1967), starring Eli Wallach. Schisgal’s play Luv was also produced as a screenplay (1965). Schisgal and Larry Gelbart collaborated to produce the screenplay for the hit 1982 film Tootsie.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Murray Schisgal is known for his experimental plays (The Typists) and, even more so, for his farces, including Luv and The Tiger. He is prominent in the theater world and a friend of many on the New York theater scene, such as Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, and Dustin Hoffman (to whom he dedicated a number of his scripts, including Popkins). His plays reflect some of the mainstream comic situations and themes of New York theater from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. His forte, light comedy and satire, manifests itself in witty, often topical plays that are written primarily to evoke quick laughter and that have been produced by some of the best professional theater troupes of modern times.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Herman, Jan. “Murray Schisgal Puts on a Show—So What Else Is New?” Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1989, p. F2. This preview of Songs of War, which includes a biographical profile, chronicles Schisgal’s American and European reputation and recalls the fresh voice of Luv in 1965. Songs of War, with “refrains of family skirmishes,” is reviewed by Don Shirley three days later.

Klein, Alvin. “Luv Offers Vaudeville of Neuroses.” Review of Luv, by Murray Schisgal. The New York Times, February 9, 1992, p. 15. This review of the New Jersey Forum Theater Group’s revival of Luv appeared in the New Jersey section of the newspaper. Klein includes a brief biography and a fairly long appreciation of Schisgal’s sense of theater and his contribution to light comedy over several decades.

Lambert, Mike. “Awards Close Out Menu of Delicious One-Act Plays.” The Washington Post, July 25, 1991, p. 5. The occasion, a one-act play festival at the Northern Virginia Theatre Alliance, included Schisgal’s play A Need for Brussels Sprouts. The play went on in September to another production, directed by Stephen Rothman, at the West Hollywood Tiffany Theater.

Miller, Daryl H. “Missteps Undo We Are Family: Murray Schisgal’s Comedy, at the Odyssey, Steps over the Line in Its Tale of Two Men Who ‘Turn Gay.’” Review of We Are Family, by Murray Schisgal. Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2002, p. F47. Miller is critical of Schisgal’s We Are Family, the story of two men who become gay in response to increased aggressiveness in women, playing at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles.

Pressley, Nelson. “In Arlington, It’s Luv in a New York Minute: A High-Speed Take on the Biting Comedy.” Review of Luv, by Murray Schisgal. The Washington Post, June 19, 2000, p. C2. This review of a revival of Luv by the American Century Theater at the Gunston Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia, is critical of the production but not of Schisgal’s comedy.

Stein, Howard, and Glenn Young, eds. The Best American Short Plays, 1991-1992. New York: Applause, 1992. As a preface to Extensions, the editors sum up Schisgal’s career and his success with Luv, discuss his promising future, and bring into focus his later work.