Foreword Reviews

Mr. Universe & Other Plays

From the acclaimed author of the novels Dream Boy and Winter Birds comes this quartet of plays, all already staged and all well received. Of the four pieces “The Borderland” is the most conventional, as married yuppies and a trailer trash couple square off on a stormy rural night in Georgia. Both this work and the title piece owe a singular debt to Tennessee Williams.

In “Mr. Universe” two New Orleans drag queens befriend a mute bodybuilder and a conflict between lust and tenderness builds. The author subverts time in “The Lizard of Tarsus” and “Math and Aftermath.” Set in a modern- day prison cell, “Tarsus” pits the apostle Paul as interrogator and Jesus as his suspect. Paul is relentless and his subject is evasive. It isn’t tremendously clear what the author intends, but the wordplay is dazzling throughout. Equally opaque in its sense of place and time is “Math” where porn film stars and producers gather on a Bikini Atoll beach on the eve of nuclear testing. A movie is shot and the characters, inexplicably blessed with hind and foresight, opine in ways both real and imaginary. It’s a fun, if perplexing, exercise. Both “Tarsus” and “Math” must surely benefit from the buttressing of a theater staging. “Mr. Universe” and “The Borderland” stand as an eloquent addendum to the author’s three fine novels. Kaye Gibbons, Reynolds Price, Craig Lucas and Romulus Linney provide erudite introductions.

Reviewed by Peter Robertson

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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