The Middle Ages

Presented by Theater Breaking Through Barriers, now playing at the Kirk Theatre, Theatre Row, off-off-Broadway.

Dramas in which we plunge into ongoing action intermittently are always rather interesting—not always effective (does life really work like that, vast periods of unimportance punctuated by a few sudden turning points?) but definitely interesting.* I enjoy piecing together context and elapsed time with each new scene, and the plotting is generally rather tight: after all, we only drop into a particular moment because something significant is happening.

Such structure also allows the story to cover a long period of time without needing to become epic. For example, in The Middle Ages, a play by A. R. Gurney, we spend time in just a single room, with only four characters, but span more than thirty years. I’m not quite convinced that the setting—the trophy room of a big-city men’s club—is truly so meaningful to the characters as to justify its being the site of so many critical moments in their lives, but I can set that aside. It’s an interesting conceit.