The Lost Group Theatre Plays: Volume II by Robert Ardrey

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Robert Ardrey
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The Lost Group Theatre Plays: Volume II

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Book review

The most famous Theatre company in America, The Group Theatre, only produced 23 plays in their 10 year existence, and only a few of those are currently in print. Though they shaped the future of America drama, many of these plays have been long out of print, or were never published. For the first time EVER, 2 of these plays see publication for the first time ever - Nellise Child's WEEP FOR THE VIRGINS and Robery Ardrey's CASEY JONES finally see publication in this volume, along with Mr. Ardrey's classic THUNDER ROCK! Weep for the Virgins: A Bitter Comedy by Nellise Child was presented by the Group in 1935 under the direction of Cheryl Crawford and featured the talents of Jules Garfield, Phoebe Brand, Eunice Stoddard, J.E. Bromberg, Margaret Barker and many more. In Weep, we meet the Jobes: 3 sisters, the original dance mom, a father with dreams of fortunes in frog legs, and his Bible toting, quoting mother. Employed by The Blue Ocean Cannery, the untalented sisters are lead to believe they will have famous lives waiting for them… if only they can get to Hollywood, by whatever means it takes. Act by act, each of the sisters meets her ruin, driven there by their mother’s poisonous love. In the first on his two plays for the Group Theatre, Casey Jones, Robert Ardrey tells a tale of man fixated on a machine. Like his namesake of the famous ballad, Casey grows up a man of the railroad. So much so, that he often neglects his family in favor of his career and his love for his locomotive. As he approaches his 50th birthday and begins to have trouble with his eyesight, his days with the railroad may be coming to an end, and he is forced to question his identity. Nearly a century before our obesseion with the computer, iPad, and other gadgets seem to consume our everyday life, Ardrey predicted how man would become “willing slaves to their machines.” In the classic play Thunder Rock, successful author and former reporter, David Charleston becomes so disturbed by the state of the world; he takes a job as a lighthouse keeper and the sole resident of Thunder Rock Island. When he notices a memorial plaque dedicated to a sailing ship of immigrants who fatally crashed on the island 90 years prior, he starts to imagine how ideal life was in their time. Soon, they begin appearing to him. At first he controls them, until they decide to teach him about the eternal struggles of life. This classic play became one of the most important plays in Europe during World War II and played continuously in London throughout the bombings.

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