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Dear Janet Rosenberg, Dear Mr Kooning


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A: Stanley Eveling Pf: 1969, Edinburgh Pb: 1971 G: Romantic com. in 2 acts S: Janet's room and Alec's room, Britain, c.1970 C: 1m, 1fAt the age of 19, Janet Rosenberg writes an appreciative letter to the 50-year-old novelist Alec Kooning, who replies warmly to her praise. When she writes again, he fantasizes about his youthful fan, but does not send the reply he wrote. Having heard nothing from him, she takes a near-fatal overdose, then asks whether he can help her find one of his out-of-print novels. She claims to receive copies of all his books and a large bunch of roses, but he denies sending them. He then fantasizes about meeting her and begs to be allowed to visit. She reluctantly agrees. He travels to see her, but meets only her mother (played by the same actress as Janet), who asks him to make love to her. He refuses and waits on alone in Janet's room. She appears to him, and they lie down on the bed together, but he cannot continue. He leaves, almost forgetting to put on his trousers. The correspondence continues, Alec veering from bouts of jealous melancholy to assertions that he is rejuvenated, Janet growing gradually weary of him. Eventually their exchanges become fused into ‘a monologue for two’, and Alec, facing the futility of his life and of his love for Janet, shoots himself. Finally, Janet/Mrs Rosenberg writes a letter thanking an admirer for his praise for her latest play, in which Janet and Alec meet and marry and enjoy an ironically happy ending.

A: Stanley Eveling Pf: 1969, Edinburgh Pb: 1971 G: Romantic com. in 2 acts S: Janet's room and Alec's room, Britain, c.1970 C: 1m, 1f

In an ironic reference to his own play, Eveling speaks of ‘the curious mixture of farce and misery which is the slight ripple left by the receding impulse of tragedy’. This comedy deftly portrays the interplay of reality and fantasy, Janet Rosenberg consciously assuming a younger, more glamorous identity, Alec Kooning also struggling with the question of who he really is.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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