Albee, most critics—^with what oftennamounts to reverential unanimity—agree,nis a writer very much concerned withnlanguage. This can be discerned fromnEdward Albee: An Interview and Essays,nedited by Julian N. Wasserman. Furthermore,nthe consensus seems to be thatnAlbee’s concern for things linguistic andnepistemological is happily redoundingnto the benefit of us all, if not alwaysnaesthetically, then at least ethically. Albee,namong other brave souls whose altruismnis presumably exceeded only by theirnperspicacity, is engaged in the admirablentask of raising the consciousness of thenAmerican public, telling us things aboutnourselves and our society which otherwisenwe would not know.nWe should be permitted to be skepticalnabout such claims. Certain thingsnabout the man and his work are unarguablenenough. While on one level it is obviousnthat Albee is very much interestednin language, and that this interest is reflectedneverywhere in his plays, on anothernleveUie is not interested in languagenat all. Or, to speak more precisely,nhe is interested in langu^e but in thenwrong sort of way. AXTiat is evident innthe major portion of his plays are the sadneffects of his misdirected concern. Thenfirst thing that needs to be said aboutnmost of Albee’s plays is that they are notnplays at all because they lack that withoutnwhich a play cannot be a play: dramaticnverve. They lack dramatic verve,nin turn, not because there are too manynwords and not enough action, but becausenthe words themselves lack action.nThe language in his plays has a self-defeatingntendency not to reach out toward thenreal, but too often contents itself, in andaze of self-mesmerization, to revolvenaround and around itself, like a dog chasingnits tail. Watching a dog chasing its tailncan be amusing—^for a very short time.nThen one feels obliged to get on to morenimportant things.nPerhaps Albee missed his true calling.nHe got off to at least an interesting startnas a playwright; he showed promise. Butnthen, instead of continuing to perfectnASlskelnliidi-r this title, wt- periodically takenHole ofsonie}ji: dceiirrence.’* In thenI’>:ij;e.’i cif the Chicat’o ‘Irihttne’s they are cjlled movie reviews.n.MlejjedK, there exist.s a person hy thenniuiie .Siskel, whose eluciihratioii.s onnmovie’s are piilillshL-i.1 theii’. but we somehowncannot believe that an authenticnhuman belnj; who W;LS touched hy primarynaliication could have evolveil inton.such a mlMiire of :irropince and ment:ilnarldit). and still he empUned by any .sellre.s]xctiiij;ndaily. Vi e .suppc ).sc that—usingnthe terminology of a recent liitiiristicnmovie—a Siskel must be a “replicant.” arlIHciallvnconstriicteil by the Trih’s ullraarehlihendnlitt-wing Taction, whom thenpublishers either ilo not control or donnot read in print. He (it?’) is by-lined as an•’movie critic.” and this is wliat he had ton.say about line Richard Pryorand his latestn”conciTt” picture—that is. a one-mannsh(jw—entitled Richard I’ryar—HerenUH(i.t>W:nTher(‘.>iiilt IsanolliereonK-iK triumphntiir Pnuraiul oni- nl’those rare liliiLs Ihjln.U’liiulK nuke yiui I:IIIK)Inhad renounced e’en instinctual gnipingntoward a more developed mentality of anlUmin siifjii’n.i. To Ix; sure, there doesnexist priniitie. naie. anil lolksy art (anilnwisdom), but Pryor is a Ihiiidulent versionnof all ol’ iheni. while the SLskels arenunable to recogni/e the differentiationnand claim he is pa.ssing judgment onnhumanity.nCertainly, the Siskel in question indulgesnin ratiocination:n’I1ie eoiieerl lilni \’;is l:ipe(.l in August innrriini of:! raeiallv niixeii aiiilieiiee :itnIhree.sellcuit eoneirtsin New t)rlean.s.nWhat he is trying lo say is that if thenarenenotigli idiots to enjoy iiliocy. the latterntranslorms itself into a value. This kindnof auilienci-. according to him. delights innbeing deba.sed arid dehumani/i-il:nIn f.iet. vinic i>!” ilii.- fiiniitc>>i nuinit’nis innllie lilni (KViir wlun Prvor.sjionts liaek alnhis .uulit’mv. lelling iheni hasic:illy tonshin up in .1 vurien’ol’uays.nAnd on ;ind on. The Tribune’s own Siskelnlois it when Mr. Pryor enacts (or maybennot?) omiting on .stage, and he climaxesnin his highest worshipful laudation:nHuTe is no more :uii.l;u’iciiis perronnernaround than I’rj or. Who elsi- would direnrepiJiedly m compare ilie prf.siileni ofnthe lulled Sl;iles lo hi.s .six org:in? Nonone.nlliis in a newspaper that eery four earsnenilorses .someone lor President. Lini31nFebruary 1984n