“Tony Kushner’s Communist Turducken”: I watch “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures”

“Tony Kushner’s Communist Turducken”: I watch “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures” November 24, 2014

for AmCon:

My heart is by dejection, clay
And by self-murder, red.

–John Donne, “A Litany”

Gus’s heart is Red, all right. He’s a 72-year-old Communist Party member, former longshoreman, and union organizer; he’s already tried to kill himself once, and has called his children together to explain his new plan: Sell their Brooklyn brownstone, split the proceeds among the kids, then finish himself off. Tony Kushner’s “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures,” at D.C.’s Jewish Community Center through December 21, is loosely structured around Gus’s kids’ attempts to argue their father (a broken yet indomitable Tom Wiggin) out of suicide.

“Guide” is a soapy, overstuffed play. Kushner’s plays are always intellectual turduckens. This one tries to wring insight and poignancy out of gay babymaking, apophatic theology vs. the social gospel, the housing crash, the Stalin-Hitler pact, the morality of suicide, commodity fetishism, the Shining Path, and the Guaranteed Annual Income—plus musical bedrooms, a Yale-educated hustler, a mysterious locked suitcase, and a giant portrait of Our Lady of Sorrows. Some of this works.

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