Giving and Getting

A bold and passionate play whose soap-opera ending barely diminishes its power

This criticism is no reflection on Clawson and Hurteau, who imbue Paz and LH with a larger-than-life exuberance without overplaying the characters' ugly sides. The precise rhythms of Chris Smith's direction make the clattering runaway plot palatable. And the uncompromising hostility of Kris Stone's set -- with its back wall of corrugated steel, characterless furniture, and scattered TV monitors -- further helps to prevent the action from becoming Oprahmaterial.

The Rules of Charity.
Bill Faulkner
The Rules of Charity.

Though in need of a little refinement, The Rules of Charity is a bold and passionate work. The play left me fuming at the erosion of the welfare state, and has led me to question the motives behind my own acts of charity and to think about the relationship between the giver and the receiver on a larger scale. In this frame of mind, it was ironic to open my press kit and find, on one side, a leaflet promoting the Magic's next season of new plays, and on the other, an advertisement for Macy's upcoming "Community Shopping Day" ("an all-day shopping event dedicated to raising funds for local nonprofit organizations"). "Buy your $10 ticket today," said the ad. "All proceeds go to Magic Theatre."

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