Sweet Sue (play)

Sweet Sue (play)

"Sweet Sue" is a play by A. R. Gurney. It premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and later enjoyed a Broadway production at the Music Box Theatre during the 1986-87 season.

Although the play requires four actors, there are only characters: Susan Weatherhill, a repressed and uncertain woman in her late forties, and Jake, a young man who is the college roommate of Susan's son. Each of these characters, however, is played simultaneously by two actors, who give expression to the tensions and ambivalences within the characters. The script refers to them as: "Susan," "Susan Too," "Jake," and "Jake Too." This technique of dividing a single character between two actors is not unique to "Sweet Sue"; it can also be found in "Overtones" by Alice Gerstenberg, "Getting Out" by Marsha Norman, and "Passion" by Peter Nichols. Here, Gurney uses it to create an atmosphere of light romantic comedy, punctuated by moments of unease.

Gurney has explained that the play was initially meant to be a modern treatment of the classical tale of Phaedra and her desire for a younger man, but turned into a summer romance, with Susan struggling with problems of self-esteem, artistic integrity, and sexual attraction to a man young enough to ber her son. [A. R. Gurney. "Pushing the Walls of Dramatic Form. "The New York Times." 27 July 1986.] Reviewers tended to dismiss the play as superficial and far from Gurney's best, but it ran for six months on Broadway, due in part to the casting of the two Sues with the popular actors, Mary Tyler Moore and Lynn Redgrave.


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