only identifiable legacy. The choice ofnsyphilis was ineluctable for Guare,nsince it not only conjures up Ibsen (tonwhom Guare is paying deliberatenhomage in this series of plays), but itnalso suggests comparison with thenmore recent sexual utopianism of then60’s. But what is most useful to usntoday in Guare’s grandiose scheme hasnbeen either o’erlooked or ridiculed bynthe critics who were singularly unimpressed.nBoth Lydie Breeze and Gardenianreceived devastating reviews whennthey opened within months of eachnother in New York early in 1982. Thenresponse was so fiercely negati’e, innfact, that Guare probably had no recoursenbut to withhold the third playnin the trilogy. Though Women andnWater has just this past year, or fourn}ears later, played at the Los AngelesnActors’ Theater and at the Arena Stagenin Washington, it has yet to even opennin New York,nFor the most part, the critics dweltnon the references to Ibsen and othernliterary giants, as well as on the generalnloftiness of Guare’s aims; but all at thenexpense of even considering whatnGuare was driving at. On the basis ofnthe critics’ diatribes, one might concludenthat Guare “borrowed” een hisncharacters’ names by lifting them fromnsome literary context or othern—Edmund Wilson’s Patriotic Gore,nfor example — rather than derivingnthem from the tombstones at a cemeterynin Queens, as he did.nAs Robert Brustein was quick tonpoint out in his review o[ Lydie Breeze,nnot since O’Neill had an Americannplaywright undertaken so massive anproject. But when Brustein rhetoricallynasks, “What should one don—admire Guare’s audacity or worrynover his momentary loss of reason?” henanswers, “The latter, alas. . . . Guarenstill brings his unfailing bounce andngood nature to such lugubrious subjectsnas murder, suicide, death, andndisease, but here his tone is at war withnhis intentions, as if he were featuringnBugs Bunny in an animated version ofnWar and Peace.”nJohn Simon concurred in his responsento Lydie Breeze. “There arenalso numerous allusions to or quotationsnfrom Poe, Hawthorne, James,nWhitman, and other ottocento Americanan[where, I wonder, are Poe andnJames?], but neither solid relationshipsnnor soaring dialogue to hold togethernthis disjointed, garish, and vacuousnclaptrap.” Frank Rich was equally inhospitablenin his more crucial responsenfor the Times: “Lydie Breeze seems tonchoke on literary references.”nGardenia, which occurs earlier innGuare’s conceived cycle, even thoughnit premiered after Lydie Breeze, farednno better. Frank Rich seized it as annopportunity to declaim once againnagainst the first work: “Distressinglynenough, it manages to diminish thenearlier play, such as it was, retroactively.”nBrustein despaired even further: “Inawait the third play in the trilogy, lessnout of expectation that it will producensomething significant than out of hopenthat John Guare will finally have gottennthis damned Lydie Breeze businessnout of his system.”nBut for both of these works, thenproblem may have less to do with whatnGuare actually offered and more withnthe climate that was there, or not therenas the case may be, to receive them.nOne of Brustein’s remarks suggests asnmuch inadvertently: “To judge bynLydie Breeze, the task of encapsulatingnhistorical material within a theatricalnanecdote has grown even more problematicntoday than in the time ofnO’Neill.” The sad fact of the matter isnthat Guare’s best play’s—his most ambitious,nmost dense, and most instructivenworks—have yet to receive fair ornproper analysis. The Lydie Breezencycle was perceived as a pretentious ornpseudoliterary exercise. But that responsenreflects not what Guare had tonoffer, so much as the frantic state ourncritics are in, behaving here like anband of starved detectives who finallynhad some clues to which to apply theirntrade. Not even subsequent productionsn(for Lydie Breeze, in Washington,nDG, and just this past spring atnSteppenwolf in Ghicago; for Gardenia,nin San Francisco, Pittsburgh, andnat the Goodman in Chicago) couldnslough off the dead weight of the initialnpans.nIn the meantime, Guare’s fluffier,nmore digestible The House of BluenLeaves reigns supreme in revival. Itnwas, it should be said, well-enoughnreceived in 1971 to win the New YorknDrama Critics award as Best Play. Butnsince it played at the time in an OffnBroadway theater, it was not qualifiednfor Tonv Awards consideration. Thenmove of the current production lastnApril to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre,ntechnically a Broadway house,nfrom the more intimate Mitzi Newhousenspace downstairs at LincolnnCenter where it had opened a fewnmonths before, seemed engineered tonqualify it for Tony deliberations. Indeed,nthe great scandal of the 1985-86nTony Awards was the nomination ofnThe House of Blue Leaves no less thannAthol Fugard’s The Blood Knot for BestnPlay, since both works were literallynmore than a decade old. Many saw thenTonys as a confirmation of the dismalnstate of American drama. What thenawards really indicated was that thenTony Awards organization is an outmodednenterprise—at this point thenonly theatrical awards association thatnrefuses to look beyond Broadway.nDavid Kaufman is a theater critic innNew York City.nARTnnnThe Genius ofnRedundancenby Andrei Navrozovn”Simplicity,” the Russian proverb tellsnus, “is worse than theft.” Meaning,neconomy is just another name fornsterility.nThis is an easy thing to believe as Inwrite this in the middle of London, thenOld World piling up stone all aroundnme in a paean to the unnecessary. Butnwhat is necessary? As Tolstoy calculatednin his famous story, no man needsnmore than six feet of ground.nIt is the same when not just life, butnexpression, is in question. In college,nwe were always asked to write essays onnDonne’s “A Valediction of weeping.”nRemember?nOn a round ballnA workeman that hath copiesnby, can laynAn Europe, Afrique, and annAsia,nAnd quickly make that, whichnwas nothing, All . . .nI could never convince my professorsnthat a “ball” is always “round” bynOCTOBER 1986 / 49n