Athol Fugard is one of the reasons I became a theater critic. Getting to see a play by him once in a while -- to balance the lousy shows -- has always struck me as a pretty good deal. Fugard grew up in the shadow of a great generation of American playwrights like Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, and he was forced by circumstance to write about the rotten politics of his home nation, South Africa. He ranks with dour old Solzhenitsyn as a dissenter from brutal state power, yet his plays are shot with an almost American lightness and optimism. To me, that's amazing. For the simple achievement of maintaining his sense of humor during the darkest years of apartheid, I think Fugard deserved the Nobel Prize in literature ahead of his compatriot J.M. Coetzee (who got it this year) -- but then, I'm not on the... More >>>