A.R. Gurney, who died in June 2017, was prolific to the end. Like Verdi, Henry James, and Philip Roth (a recently deceased contemporary of Gurney’s), this urbane playwright exercised robust creative powers far beyond customary retirement age. Judging by the number of high-profile revivals since his death (most notably last season’s superb Off-Broadway production of Later Life), Gurney’s wit and insight are still integral to American drama.
Ars Nova’s KPOP begins with a chorus of glittering young Korean pop performers belting the lyrics “the future’s standing right in front of you.” Indeed, the purported mission of the play’s fictional management enterprise, JTM Entertainment, is to bring K-Pop to American audiences, and the production delivers K-Pop-styled numbers in droves.
There’s a neon display over the mezzanine bar in the spanking new A.R.T./New York Theatres on 53rd Street that reads, “Why are you here and not somewhere else?” It’s an apt distillation of Richard Maxwell’s eccentric Samara, which has just opened there. Maxwell’s odyssey, artfully wrangled by Soho Rep Artistic Director Sarah Benson, invokes the ghosts of Shakespeare and Brecht to question the very notion of making and attending theater.