DEATH AND THE BLUES

IN A VIBRANT BUT FLAWED NEW PLAY, AUGUST WILSON CONTINUES HIS DECADE-BY-DECADE EXPLORATION OF THE BLACK EXPERIENCE

Part bawdy comedy, part dark elegy, part mystery, August Wilson's rich new play, Seven Guitars, nicely eludes categorization. It begins with a prologue in which a group of friends are mourning the death of Floyd Barton, a blues guitarist and singer whose career was on the verge of taking off. The action that follows is a flashback leading up to Floyd's death. But though full and strong in its buildup, the play loses its potency as it reaches its climax. Floyd's death may be plausible, even inevitable, but it becomes tangled in a confusing thicket of mysticism and subplots. Though Floyd...

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