Monday, February 06, 2006

ArtsJournal: About Last Night:

Wendy Wasserstein died yesterday morning. I met her several years ago when I interviewed her for a story in Time about Central Park, a trilogy of one-act operas to which she had contributed a libretto. I liked her enormously—everybody did—and I was always pleased to run into her at New York City Ballet, which she frequented once upon a time. Then she dropped out of sight, had a baby, and more or less vanished from the theater world. Her plays were no longer being performed in New York by the time I became a drama critic, and it wasn’t until last October that I had occasion to write about her in The Wall Street Journal.

Alas, her last play wasn’t any good, and I said so. I hated to give Third a bad review, not least because I knew Wasserstein was sick, though I didn’t know she was dying. (One of the characters in the play had cancer.) In fact, I didn’t think much of any of Wasserstein’s plays, and I dreaded having to say so in print, since she was an exceedingly nice lady. I fudged the point in my review, calling her “one of our best theatrical journalists, a keen-eared social observer with a knack for summing up cultural watershed moments like the coming of age of the baby boomers and putting them on stage to memorable effect.” All true, and none of it incompatible with the fact that I considered her to be a glib, punch-pulling lightweight, a kind of feminist Neil Simon who never cut too close to the knuckle.

1:46 AM