For those of you who saw OTHER DESERT CITIES at Lincoln Center, you may want to reach back and look at another of Jon Robin Baitz' family dramas that keeps you riveted while your heart breaks. Take a look at A FAIR COUNTRY. If you haven't seen his new play, this older play is a solid example of his fine writing. There are great similarities in these plays, yet they are distinct, good stories.
In A FAIR COUNTRY, Baitz takes us to an American diplomat's family stationed in Durban, South Africa in 1977. The family is coming apart in much the same way South Africa is tearing itself away from apartheid. The diplomat, his wife and two sons must face the people of the land they have learned to call home while they wrestle with who they have become as a family, and separately, while living in such a foreign place. Family members find their allegiances questioned, their morals challenged, and their love for each other twisted as time and distance reveal who they really were and who they are now. The family finally moves out of Durban bringing relief as well as looming destruction. The play is framed, opening and ending, with scenes ten years later between mother and son - defending who they were in the past and owning the choices that have led them into their very precarious present. This play is intelligent, beautifully written and full of emotion. It is to the point as it is coy. Mr. Baitz seems to percolate his characters through a communal psyche and even if you don't come from the economic or political world in which the characters live, you feel you have wrestled with their demons.
Review by Eleanore Speert
Good scenes for twos and fours.