Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

SubUrbia was among several new plays produced in 1994 for the Festival of American Plays. An underlying theme of these plays is the futility that was facing youth in the final decade before the millennium. Howard Korder’s The Lights casts an unrelenting beam upon the moral degradation of the city. Michael John La Chiusa’s musical, Hello Again, presents a frenzy of sexuality, reflecting the desperation rather than the joy of sex.

The overwhelming sense of desperation and hopelessness portrayed in subUrbia is akin to much of the substance of such earlier twentieth century plays as Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story (pr. 1959, pb. 1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (pr., pb. 1962); Arthur Miller’s All My Sons (pr., pb. 1947) and Death of a Salesman (pr., pb. 1949); William Inge’s Come Back, Little Sheba (pr., pb. 1950), Picnic (pr., pb. 1953), and Bus Stop (pr., pb. 1955); and nearly the entire body of Tennessee Williams’s major dramatic productions.

The 1990’s were a time of reflection as both the century and the millennium drew to a close. Society was advancing at breakneck speed, but not everyone could keep pace with it. Much of modern society is closed to people like the five drifters in subUrbia. If there is any doubt about this social exclusion, Bogosian reemphasizes it by recounting Tim’s humiliation during his service in the Air Force.