"the country we almost made for you"

We saw Lanford Wilson "Fifth of July" in a wonderful production at Signature Theatre tonight. It's just a magnificent play, and it still stands tall and bright in the strength of its political conscience even twenty-five years after it was first performed.

That relevance is unfortunately largely because the 60's ultimately failed, and it is that remarkable era which functions as the leading character in the play. Peace, love, sex, racial harmony, women's liberation, gay rights, recreational drug rights, tieless office workers, the elimination of stupid politicians: we aren't there yet. I've been in shock since the late 70's when I began to realize that the revolution had not stuck. I never ever expected it to be reversed.

There is one line in particular which somehow anchored the play for me. In the midst of a reunion with her former Berkeley hippie menage, fifteen years after and thousands of miles away from their youth, a mother almost screams a reproach to her teenage daughter who has just shown disdain or scepticism about the friends' radical history: "You've no idea the country we almost made for you!" I cried.

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Published on February 12, 2003 12:43 AM.


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