AT: Gardens of Eden A: Romulus Linney Pf: 1982, Philadelphia Pb: 1984 G: Drama in 1 act S: Classroom of small southern college near Birmingham, Alabama, 1981 C: 1m, 3fCelebrated novelist Constance Lindell, an attractive woman in her thirties, is teaching a creative fiction course, for which, owing to a dreadful tutor the previous year, only three students have enrolled: May Ford (forties), mother of three, gushingly admiring of Constance's writing; Suzanne Lachette, a pretty young divorcee; and Buford Bullough, a wild-looking young man who presents as a hick. Constance invites the students to read aloud from their work. May, who likes writing about the beauty of nature, begs Suzanne to go first. Suzanne reads from her novel Scaulded Dogs, which is a poorly written feminist diatribe against her husband. Buford then reads from his novel, enigmatically entitled F. M. Despite his inarticulacy when speaking, his writing is brilliant: ‘hit's different when ah write. I reckon that's why ah do it.’ Constance is enthralled by his story of a young man's incestuous relationship with his mother. May and Suzanne are horrified by this ‘downright repulsive’ pornography, and, when Constance divines that F. M. stands for ‘Fucking Mother’, they storm out, intent on reporting Constance to the college authorities. Constance asks Buford to read on and takes his hand.
AT: Gardens of Eden A: Romulus Linney Pf: 1982, Philadelphia Pb: 1984 G: Drama in 1 act S: Classroom of small southern college near Birmingham, Alabama, 1981 C: 1m, 3f
The critic Martin Gottfried described Linney as ‘one of the best kept secrets of the American theatre, a playwright of true literacy’. Like Buford, Linney came from a simple Appalachian background and no doubt shocked many people with the candour of his writing. This play is a tribute to the artist who is prepared to sacrifice the approval of the conventional May and the radical Suzanne in order to portray the truth.