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Promise Fulfilled 

Wednesday, Dec 31 2008
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Despite John Guare's early critical success with House of Blue Leaves, which won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play of 1971, his next full-length play, Rich and Famous, was not received kindly by New York critics. Perhaps it hit too close to home. Rich and Famous follows a deluded young playwright named Bing Ringling during the opening of his "autobiographical" musical adaptation of Dante's Inferno. What is to be the turning point of Ringling's professional life becomes an inky night of the soul. More than anything, he fears becoming "the world's oldest living promising young playwright," but the craven road to fame leads to something altogether more hollow. Presenting the play in its first major revival since 1976 — and rewriting significantly — Guare employs the most absurd circumstances to magnify the real tragedy of human lives, and he caps it off with a song. Rich and Famous was no doubt intended as a satirical self-portrait, but Guare's own career bears no reflection. Since '76, he’s been piled with accolades, including an Obie for Six Degrees of Separation, numerous Tonys, and a National Film Critics Circle Award and an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Louis Malle's Atlantic City. Surely the revival of Rich and Famous will see its due at last.
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Silke Tudor

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