Synopses & Reviews
Nine classic comedies from Broadway's Golden Age.
If Eugene O'Neill represents the tragic mask of American drama, then George S. Kaufman can easily lay claim to its smiling counterpart. No other comic dramatist in America has enjoyed more popular success and perennial influence or been more fortunate in his choice of collaborators, who included George and Ira Gershwin, Moss Hart, Irving Berlin, and the Marx Brothers.
Here, in the most comprehensive collection of his plays ever assembled, are nine classics: his uproarious "backstage" play The Royal Family (1927, written with Edna Ferber); the Marx Brothers-inspired mayhem of Animal Crackers (1928, with Morrie Ryskind), in a version discovered in Groucho Marx's papers and published here for the first time; June Moon (1929, with Ring Lardner), a hilarious look at a young composer trying to make it big on Tin Pan Alley; Once in a Lifetime (1930, with Moss Hart), one of the first and best satires of Hollywood; Pulitzer Prize-winners Of Thee I Sing (1931, with Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin) and You Can't Take It with You (1936, with Moss Hart); Dinner at Eight (1932, with Edna Ferber), a tart ensemble piece that mixes comedy and melodrama; Stage Door (1936, with Edna Ferber), his much-loved story about young actresses trying to make it big in New York City; and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939, with Moss Hart), an unforgettable burlesque of America's cult of celebrity.
Bursting with vernacular wit, farcical ingenuity, and theatrical panache, these plays have remained beloved favorites and exuberant reminders of Broadway in its glory days.
"[Kaufman's plays] crackled with sophisticated Broadway wiseguy dialogue....The plots were beautifully structured and were very performable....Not only did Kaufman's one-liners explode like firecrackers, but the wit was truly authentic and full of wonderful vitriol." Woody Allen, The New York Times Book Review
"The joys to be had reading these plays are considerable....A lot of it has to do with the fact that the humor is not gag humor. The laughs come from brilliance of construction, context and vocabulary." Dick Cavett, The Wall Street Journal
"If the contents of Kaufman & Co. don't exactly conform to our received notion of what a Great Play should be, they are still proof of the extraordinary energy and fun of Broadway's Golden Age." Newsday
"[W]hat Kaufman & Co. tells me is that I was right to love Six Plays by Kaufman & Hart as much as I did, but that when he hitched up with someone else, he couldn't take it with him." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
In the most comprehensive collection of Kaufman's plays ever assembled, are nine classics, including his uproarious "backstage" play The Royal Family (1927, written with Edna Ferber) and the Marx Brothers-inspired mayhem of Animal Crackers (1928, with Morrie Ryskind).
About the Author
Laurence Maslon, editor, is an associate arts professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and a former associate artistic director at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He was senior consultant and co-writer for two episodes of the six-part PBS series Broadway: The American Musical, as well as coauthoring, with Michael Kantor, the companion volume for the documentary.