This weeks play – The Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel. The play was recently produced by Acting Out at the Harbour Playhouse in Dublin, and we’re joined by the cast Michael J. Kunze, Niamh Denyer and Brian Graham Higgins.
The Baltimore Waltz was first produced off-Broadway at the Circle Repertory Company in 1992, and first published by dramatists play service that same year. It was awarded Obie awards for Best New American play, Best Performance, and Best Direction.
The play is an allegory about the aids crisis, and the death of the playwright’s brother. Despite the heavyweight subject matter Baltimore Waltz is a highly stylised, cinematically referential comedy with an unconventional structure. Three actors, Anna, her Brother Carl and a chorus ‘The Third’ (playing a variety of roles), travel across an imaginary Europe, tracing the trip the playwright regretted never taking herself. The play tackles the tragedy and impossible uncertainties of the very early days of the aids crisis with a lightness of touch, and a playful approach to symbolism that creates a space for poignancy to naturally emerge.
Anna is ill with Acquired Toilet Disease, a sly wink to Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID), the original diagnosis for HIV / AIDS. She leaves her job as a grade school teacher, as does her brother, fired from his position as ‘the head librarian of literature and languages at the San Francisco Public’. Together they cross Europe, in search of a cure, pursued by a mysterious ‘Third Man’ trafficking something in stuffed rabbits, and finally meeting ‘the doctor’, an eighty year old urologist Strangelove type figure, who ‘uriposia’ therapy is based around the enthusiastic collection and imbibing of urine .
‘Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.