(Masterpieces of American Literature)

The play’s main character is Geri, a seventeen-year-old whose mother is a Vietnamese florist and whose father, an American GI, impregnated his lover and then disappeared. Another American soldier found Geri and took her to the United States. This soldier, Laird Riordan, and his wife, Julia, adopted Geri and raised her in California. Geri develops into a concert pianist who has a promising career before her. At seventeen, she already has a lucrative record contract with Sony.

Laird has carefully groomed Geri for the musical career that is now within reach for her. An alcoholic, Laird suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder that, in part, accounts for the heavy drinking that leads to his death just as Geri’s career is beginning to take off. After Laird’s death, Julia sets out for Europe, leaving Geri in the care of her Aunt Geneva, who lives in a sequoia forest.

It is here among the redwoods of the play’s title that Geri puts her concert career on hold to search for her biological father. She has little information about him, although she does remember her birth mother telling her that he had one brown and one blue eye.

The redwood forest near Geneva’s house is home to a contingent of homeless war veterans who survive on their meager disability checks. Among this motley throng is Lyman Fellers. Because he has one brown and one blue eye, Geri is convinced that he is her father, although he actually is not.


(The entire section is 498 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Barnett, Gene A. Lanford Wilson. Boston: Twayne, 1987.

Bryer, Jackson R., ed. Lanford Wilson: A Casebook. New York: Garland, 1994.

Busby, Mark. Lanford Wilson. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University, 1987.

Dasgupta, Gautam. “Lanford Wilson.” In American Playwrights: A Critical Survey, edited by Bonnie Marranca and Gautam Dasgupta. New York: Drama Book Specialists, 1981.

Dean, Anne M. Discovery and Invention: The Urban Plays of Lanford Wilson. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994.

Gussow, Mel. “A Playwright at Home with Life’s Outsiders.” The New York Times, September 15, 2002, p. AR1.

Herman, William. Understanding Contemporary American Drama. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987.

Hornsby, Richard Mark. “Miscarriages of Justice.” The Hudson Review 56 (Spring, 2003): 161-167.

Schvey, Henry I. “Images of the Past in the Plays of Lanford Wilson.” In Essays on Contemporary American Drama. Edited by Hedwig Bok and Albert Wertheim. Munich: Max Huber Verlag, 1981.

Williams, Philip Middleton. A Comfortable House: Lanford Wilson, Marshall W. Mason, and the Circle Repertory Theatre. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1993.