Theater: What's Ticking on the Table?

THE COCKTAIL HOUR by A.R. Gurney

An aging father and mother who seem drawn from a New Yorker cartoon are hectoring their middle-aged playwright son about the "need" for less of his satirical japery and for more plays of the kind they used to enjoy -- elegant talk, beautiful clothes, faintly risque hints of extramarital indiscretion. They want entertainment to affirm life, not scrutinize it. Having sampled truth, they prefer illusion. Atop the coffee table, looking innocuous yet posing a threat so potent that a grown daughter claims to hear it "ticking," is yet another of the son's kind of play. This one is overtly about the...

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