Clearly, A.R. Gurney has become one of America's most popular playwrights. Using his razor wit and erudition, he's entertained and provoked us with such hits as Scenes From American Life, The Dining Room, Love Letters, The Perfect Party, Later Life and Sylvia--all of which make hay laying bare the generally sheltered worldview of affluent literate Americans.
One of Gurney's earliest works, Another Antigone, now in production at Germinal Stage Denver, clearly shows Gurney's genius in the making. Paralleling Sophicle's great tragedy with the story of a young coed's battle with her professor, the play she writes for his class, and issues of anti-Semitism, the playwright has a field day celebrating the multitudinous ironies that develop.
Director Stephen Kramer's steady hand exploits these thoughtful contrasts without belaboring them. Barbra Andrews is a mercurial mix of conniving and vacuous as the headstrong business student Judy Miller who decides to take a course in Greek Drama. Ed Baierlein's stodgy, intractable, politically incorrect Henry Harper blends conviction and bewilderment. Excellent supporting work from Carol Elliot as the earnest dean, Diana Eberhart, and Justin C. Lujan as the patient boyfriend, David Appleton.
In a sense, Gurney explicates his own play when he has the professor (Henry) compliment the young man (David) on his interpretation of Sophicles' Antigone as the heroine who "wins" despite her death, and Creon as the tragic figure who "loses." When Gurney's play ends, Judy refuses to compromise and "wins" by freeing herself of the orthodoxy and materialistic values of the educational system and society of which she had been a product, while Henry loses his professorship and with it his life as he defines it.
Germinal Stage Denver's charming production of Another Antigone runs through March 4th. 303-455-7108.