Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Late Christopher Bean, The by Sydney Howard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From a review in Variety of the recent Broadway revival of The Late Christopher Bean by Sidney Howard, which hasn't been seen there since the original production closed in the early 1930s:

A forgotten member of the Eugene O'Neill-Robert Sherwood-Maxwell Anderson set of American playwrights, Howard was the first person to win both the Pulitzer (for "They Knew What They Wanted") and the Oscar (for "Gone With the Wind"). The latter was the first Oscar awarded posthumously; the 48-year-old gentleman farmer was crushed by a tractor in a freak accident in 1939.
I remember seeing the play in Philadelphia when I was growing up; and when I read that a new production had been mounted, I thought about it for a staged reading series I put together.

A New England country doctor and his family had at one time taken in the indigent Chris Bean. When he died, his paintings were cast aside. Now some years later, the art community has declared him a genius and the misunderstandings and greed take center stage. Only the housekeeper, Abby, seems to have genuinely appreciated Bean. The play is funny and pointed and contains many still held beliefs about art. Not perfect but a good play. 

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