Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Lucas is a prolific writer. In addition to Reckless (which he adapted for film), he wrote several plays, including Missing Persons (pr. 1981, pb. 1995), Stranger (pr. 2000, pb. 2002), Blue Window (pr., pb. 1984), God’s Heart (pr. 1993, pb. 1999), and The Dying Gaul (pr. 1998, pb. 1999). With Norman René he created Marry Me a Little (pr. 1980), a compilation of songs by Stephen Sondheim, and with composer/lyricist Craig Carnelia he wrote the musical play Three Postcards (pr. 1987, pb. 1988). His first motion-picture project was Longtime Companion, which dealt with the sociopolitical aspects of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Reckless is an early work, but it shows Lucas’s promise as a writer with a unique voice. He has been compared to playwrights Christopher Durang and Nicky Silver, who delve into the darker sides of life by employing irony and humor. Like Durang and Silver, Lucas is not content to mirror life as it is but is interested in expanding the boundaries of the traditional play, delving frequently into fantasy and fairy tale. He seeks out new domains and experiments with the imaginary rather than the documentary.

Some critics have argued that Reckless does not have a consistent tone. This mixed-genre play begins as a dark comedy, humorously satirizes a life’s journey, and becomes a rather serious drama toward the end. Reckless creates a microcosm of death and violence in which characters commit a number of sins, yet humor is a tool many of them use for survival. Consistency is not required or necessary in this play. The audience laughs at the beginning and then wonders, by play’s end, what was humorous. The laughter fosters empathy, its purpose to encourage members of the audience to examine their own lives.