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 Editor's Picks

Shows Worth Seeing:

Sore Throats

By Howard Brenton
Theatre for a New Audience at
The Duke on 42nd St.
229 W. 42nd St.

This rare revival of Brenton’s neglected 1979 gem of a marriage play is a quiet triumph. A complicatedly brilliant and thoroughly distasteful drama, Sore Throats anatomizes a bitter divorce, magnifies those circumstances to seem emblematic, and then digs beneath the age-old Battle of the Sexes to probe other, accompanying miseries such as the boundaries of the self and the modern imperative of self-actualization. What is freedom, actually? What is satisfaction? In his least obviously political play, this usually social-minded dramatist asks deeper-than-usual political questions about how to live, and why. Evan Yionoulis’s production is splendidly modulated and exquisitely cast. Few other American actresses could bring the power and clarity Laila Robins does to Judy’s instantaneous shifts between tender sensuality and titanic rage. Bill Camp is scarcely less impressive as her husband Jack, suggesting abysses of rage and stunted imagination beneath a stiff English cop’s demeanor. And Meredith Zinner adds just the right catalytic chemical as Sally, a younger woman who first rescues Judy from violence, then joins her in a sexual escapade, then, by the end, seems to adopt Judy’s former position of passive partner and victim. This strange, important play is unlikely to be produced again this well in any of our lifetimes.

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