American Dream

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A: Edward Albee Pf: 1961, New York Pb: 1961 G: Satire in 1 act S: American living room, mid-20th c. C: 2m, 3fDomineering Mommy tells henpecked Daddy about the hat she has bought. Grandma enters with a lot of boxes. Aware that Mommy would like to put her in a nursing home, Grandma reminds Daddy that she warned him against Mommy's grasping behaviour. Mrs Barker comes from the Bye-Bye Adoption Service and is invited to make herself comfortable; so she takes off her dress. Grandma explains to her that the ‘bundle of joy’ Mommy and Daddy adopted 20 years previously proved a disappointment to them. They blinded the baby, castrated it, chopped off its hands, and cut out its tongue. Finally, the child died. A beautiful Young Man now arrives. He tells how he has suffered all his life, ever since he was separated from his identical twin. Grandma leaves her obnoxious daughter, and Mommy and Daddy, delighted at the new if familiar child they have bought for adoption, drink to celebrate.

A: Edward Albee Pf: 1961, New York Pb: 1961 G: Satire in 1 act S: American living room, mid-20th c. C: 2m, 3f

Using characters already presented in his short sketch The Sandbox (1960), this play contains echoes of Albee's own life (disappointing his rich adoptive parents instead of being the all-American boy they wanted), and of Ionesco's The Bald Prima-Donna and Pinter's The Birthday Party. Albee described the play as ‘an examination of the American Scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in our society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty, emasculation and vacuity’. Only Grandma, representative of a world now replaced by materialistic greed, shows some humanity.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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Edward Albee (b. 1928) American dramatist

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