Theater: Let a Hundred Lilys Bloom the Search for Signs of Intelligent

Life in the Universe by Jane Wagner

Theater began with one actor in a mask playing all the parts, relying on his imagination and the audience's. The modern one-person show blends that ancient Greek bravado with the calculated emotional exposure of the stand-up comic. The soloist, unmasked, tells the audience what is about to take place, shaping its reactions, soliciting its affection and implying that the customers are helping create the event rather than passively watching it. In this atmosphere, when the audience applauds some line of dialogue, it is hailing its own perspicacity as well as the actor's. The weakness of Lily Tomlin's one-woman show, which opened...

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