New Plays: Birth of a Jape

In a recent New Yorker cartoon, a scrofulous bum is shuffling past a Broadway theater at intermission time. With smug insouciance, he addresses a passing query to the patrons under the marquee: "How about it, folks? Getting your eleven dollars and ninety cents' worth?" Top ticket prices are $15 for 1776, and to answer the bum's question, it is a bearable $3 show.

For one-fifth of one's money's worth, one gets a stereotypical version of the key signers of the Declaration of Independence, together with the sometimes abrasive, sometimes soporific deliberations of the...

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