It is one of the livelier paradoxes of the English-speaking theater today that its two most dazzling wordsmiths are incurably suspicious of the language they ply with such flair. No other living playwrights give (and, it would seem, receive) more pleasure from the sounds, shapes and textures of their lavishly stocked vocabularies. And none is more achingly conscious of the inadequacy of how they say what they say.
This contradiction is not just an element of their style; it’s the essence of it. It’s what gives that distinctive, heady tension to their plays, the friction that sends the minds of receptive theatergoers into exhilarated overdrive. It is also what makes actors say that mastering these playwrights’ ornate, fast-footed language requires the sort of hard study demanded by Shakespeare.
Monday, February 18, 2008
In The New York Times, Ben Brantley reflects on the similarities between Edward Albee and Tom Stoppard.