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A: E. E. Cummings Pf: 1928, New York Pb: 1927 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Various surreal locations, 1920s C: 50m, 25f, extrasA painting, with two heads pushed through, depicts a Doctor anaesthetizing a woman. Three old women called Weird knit and gossip in rocking chairs in front of the painting. Him and his girlfriend Me discuss his latest play. He has doubts about this play and about Me's love for him. At his request, Him shows Me scenes from a popular vaudeville play that he has also written. Many of these feature the Doctor in various guises and include three fat drunks who prefer to play tennis rather than be seduced by a virgin; a soapbox orator selling ‘radium’ to cure people of ‘cinderella’; a black song-and-dance routine interrupted by the Society for the Contraception of Vice; Mussolini surrounded by camp homosexuals presiding over the burning of Rome; a spoof private detective sequence. Finally, all the characters appear in a freak show, with the Doctor acting as barker. The high point is the announcement of the birth of a child to ‘Princess Anankay’, who is revealed to be Me. Back in their room, Me looks out into the audience and tells Him that there are people there pretending that Him and Me are real.

A: E. E. Cummings Pf: 1928, New York Pb: 1927 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Various surreal locations, 1920s C: 50m, 25f, extras

Best known as an avant-garde poet, him is Cummings's most successful play. Its surrealist elements, innovatory at the time of writing, may now appear dated. But the richness of the colourful phantasmagoria of the vaudeville scenes can still delight in performance.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

e. e. Cummings (1894—1962)


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